When to get a rapid or regular COVID-19 test


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — COVID-19 rapid tests offer quicker answers, but are also the first ones to run out at some testing stations that have them.

Jose Rodriguez, a physician assistant at Upper Valley Urgent Care, said their rapid tests are more popular than the regular ones.

They use around 150 rapid tests a day and sometimes more, he said. They try and ration it out daily to make sure they have enough before the next shipment.

Rodriguez explained that rapid tests have almost the same efficiency statistically and are more convenient if a patient is looking for immediate results, but he said, it can be a double-edged sword.

“If it comes back negative and you do it quickly upon the ounce that you find out, that can give you a false sense of security,” said Rodriguez, explaining that the idea of quick testing should be taken with a grain of salt.

If you are asymptomatic and just got in contact with the virus, he suggested waiting before getting tested right away.

“If you’re already symptomatic and you have a fever, having a difficult time breathing, getting a rapid test done quickly — yes, I would do that,” added Rodriguez.

Rapid testing is offered at several urgent care clinics in El Paso on a walk-in basis, such as Upper Valley Urgent Care.

The price can range depending on your insurance. If you are paying out-of-pocket, it will cost you between $125 to nearly $200.

These tests are also offered at several private testing stations, but require an appointment.

Free rapid testing is offered at Walgreens and CVS, where you will also have to set up an appointment.

Rodriguez said if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, but believe you have been exposed to the virus, to get a regular COVID-19 test for free at one of the state or city testing stations.

If you have been exposed, he said to wait five to seven days before getting tested so the virus load can be detected and the test will be more accurate.

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