COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Americans nationwide are beginning to receive their free at-home COVID-19 test kits from the federal government this week.
With another round of frigid weather coming for some states, temperatures may impact the effectiveness of those tests.
“We used one before we got together with family for Christmas, so I can see that there is obviously liquid involved. So, if that freezes?” asked Dan Reeve, a central Ohio resident who received his tests in the mail on Monday. “I thought having a couple more on hand isn’t a bad thing.”
The United States Postal Service will deliver at-home test kits during the coming week.
“I went and got tested at the Celeste Center before Thanksgiving, and the tests we received in the mail look to be the exact same ones we were given there.”
While Reeve was working from home, he was alerted to the delivery when it arrived. Experts are cautioning people who may not have that chance to get their tests out of the elements.
“If the test is done and the specimen or the test is from an extreme cold or an extreme heat, the test results can be less accurate,” OhioHealth’s Dr. Joseph Gastaldo confirms.
What should you do if your tests sit in your mailbox or on your doorstep for hours or even days?
“Bring it indoors, before you use it, you want to make sure it is at room temperature, you want to follow the directions on the box to the letter,” said Dr. Gastaldo.
Dr. Gastaldo explained test kits should be stored at temperatures between 35 and 85 degrees, and he recommends people keep their tests in a dry setting.
For those that may be symptomatic, Gastaldo suggested that they double-check any test irregularities.
“With any type of test, if the test results do not make sense, you really need to do another test to validate that,” said Dr. Gastaldo.
Tests that are observed by a connected telehealth proctor are more accurate, and Dr. Gastaldo recommends anyone with that option, use it, particularly if it’s your first time self-administering a test.