Several other states are expressing skepticism in the reliability of the rapid, point-of-care antigen tests provided by the federal government following reports that the devices have been producing a lot of false negatives for nursing homes.
State health representatives in Connecticut, Arkansas, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Minnesota reported that they’re primarily using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in long-term care facilities, a report by ABC News revealed. Other states, such as Oregon, meanwhile, are now re-evaluating its testing guidance regarding antigen tests following reports of false positives nationwide and in the state.
“This approach avoids many of the challenges associated with antigen testing,” Elizabeth Goodsitt, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, told the news organization.
Reports of false positives from point-of-care tests at nursing homes first surfaced in mid-September.
The doubts from other states come after a directive issued by Nevada health officials earlier this month that called on nursing homes to immediately suspend use of the devices until its accuracy can be further evaluated. The state later reversed course after the Department of Health and Human Services warned that any states prohibiting the use of the equipment are in violation of federal law and could face serious consequences.
The department has noted that false positives are to be expected with every type of test, also said that so far the number of false positives reported aren’t exceeding expectations. Federal health officials also noted that guidance is available on how and when to conduct confirmatory testing following a positive result.
Not all places are experiencing issues, the report noted. California and Arizona were among five states that stated they aren’t experiencing widespread problems with the devices.