The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week released comprehensive interim guidance for rapid antigen testing for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It is intended in part for clinicians who order the tests, receive results, and/or perform on-site testing, the agency stated.

The guidance arrives on the heels of a federal campaign to deliver testing equipment to nursing homes nationwide. In it, the agency explains regulatory requirements, collection and handling directives, test performance characteristics and how to evaluate and report results.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living has summarized key considerations from the guidance for long-term care facilities, including the following general information (edited):

  • The two rapid antigen tests being sent to all nursing homes by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services currently are intended for use in symptomatic patients within five days of symptom onset. These include the Quidel Sofia and Sofia 2 Instruments and BD Veritor Plus Systems.
  • All long-term care facilities must defer to state or local guidance on test use. If this does not exist, operators may consider CDC guidance.
  • Test result evaluation must be done in context of the individual’s symptoms and the level of transmission risk in the group of people receiving the tests (usually similar to the community’s rate of COVID-19).