At-home COVID tests could skew case totals, but experts say people should still use them
People typically don't report positive results from at-home tests to health officials, so Florida's case totals are likely higher than reported.
Many Floridians are using at-home rapid tests to determine if they're infected with the coronavirus, rather than visit a provider in the community.
And as more people do that, it becomes harder for officials to get an accurate count of case totals.
Epidemiologist Jason Salemi, with the University of South Florida's College of Public Health, explains there's no consistent way health officials can collect data about who tests positive with home kits, as many people keep that information to themselves.
But he said that doesn't mean the tests aren't useful. What really matters, Salemi said, is that people have timely and convenient ways to find out if they need to isolate to prevent spreading the virus to others.
"It would be wonderful if we could get these numbers into the official tally every day, but I think that is of secondary importance to making sure people have access to these tests and they can use them to make responsible decisions," he said.
The federal government is sending Americans free at-home tests.
You can order up to four per residence at COVIDtests.gov or call 1-800-232-0233.
Copyright 2022 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7