FISHERS, Ind. — COVID-19 testing sites in Fishers, Madison and Boone counties have all been forced to forego rapid testing because they have run out of the tests.
The tests required for rapid testing have been in short supply because the Indiana Department of Health says its weekly orders are not being filled.
“IDOH is not receiving its full weekly order of BinaxNOW test kits, which means there are fewer to distribute to the local health departments,” spokesperson Megan Wade-Taxter said in a statement. “We are working to acquire additional rapid tests from other sources.”
The Fishers Health Department stopped performing rapid tests the week of Thanksgiving when they received indications they wouldn’t be receiving additional tests from the state.
“What [IDOH] have said is that the federal government has been taking precedent on their orders for the rapid tests,” Fishers Health Department Director Monica Heltz said. “Why the supply chain is suddenly short — that’s what we really don’t know.”
The Madison County Health Department ran out of its rapid tests on Monday. Administrator Stephenie Mellinger says they are still offering PCR lab tests which take longer to return results.
“The state health department has said that they will get us test results for PCR 24 hours from the time it hits the lab,” Mellinger said. “Just know that it’s going to take up to 48 hours once that individual comes in, depending on when their appointment time was, once the courier picks it up and has time to get it to the lab it’s 24 hours from the time it gets to the lab.”
The Boone County Health Department said in a Facebook post that they would only offer rapid tests until supplies last. After that, they would be doing PCR tests only.
“It feels like we are really repeating things. This is what we were dealing with in March 2020 why are we still frustrated with access to tests,” Heltz said. “Everybody is wanting rapid tests. We have the ability to do rapid test, we’ve built the infrastructure with that as a supporting mechanism and now we can offer them. I don’t understand why this is still a problem two years on.”
The health departments suggested people who need testing for travel get the test done two or three days in advance to guarantee you have results by your departure date.
As for when you get tested, doctors say anyone who is exposed to COVID-19 should get a test. The timing depends on your vaccination status.
“If you’re vaccinated you wait 5 to 7 days and then you take a test and then if it’s negative you’re done unless you develop symptoms,” Dr. Christopher Belcher, Infection Prevention Medical Director at Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis said. “If you are unvaccinated you test immediately and then you test again 5 to 7 days later and possibly again if you develop symptoms after that period of time.”
PCR lab tests are still the “gold standard” of testing but just don’t offer the instant results of rapid tests. Dr. Belcher says both tests are good.
“The rapid tests are not as sensitive as the PCR base test. So they don’t work quite as well but they do work very well and a positive on a rapid test should be considered positive,” Dr. Belcher said. “They don’t give you very many false positives but they may miss disease and that’s more common especially if the disease is asymptomatic or mild.”
All testing sites are still offering PCR tests. You can make an appointment to get tested here.