COVID-19 Self-Tests

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At-Home Rapid Tests

The City and Borough of Juneau is currently distributing free rapid antigen self-tests to the general public. 

Where can I pick up a free self-test and how many can I get?

CBJ is distributing free self-tests to the public from the following locations:

  • City Hall Cash Office
  • All Juneau Public Libraries – Downtown, Mendenhall Valley, and Douglas
  • Juneau Public Health Center
  • Juneau Police Station

At this time, the public can pick up two tests per family until supply increases. The goal of the distribution is for families to have at-home tests on reserve for when one might be needed; for instance, if you’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have recently been in close contact with someone who tested positive. Do not go into any of these facilities to pick up self-tests if you’re feeling sick, or if you’ve been identified as a close contact and should be quarantining.

What is a rapid antigen self-test? And when should I use one?

A COVID-19 self-test is a convenient option for anyone who needs to get tested for COVID-19. The test can be self-administered at home or anywhere, returns results in 10-15 minutes, and is a useful tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using a self-test:

  • If you’re experiencing new symptoms of COVID-19, like fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell; or
  • At least 5 days after you come into close contact with someone who tested positive; or
  • When you’re going to gather with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be up to date on their COVID-⁠19 vaccines.

Rapid antigen self-tests, which – while not as sensitive as PCR tests – are effective at detecting COVID-19 when it becomes transmissible.

Here’s more information and guidance on self-testing from the CDC, the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services, and Juneau Public Health.

How do I use this test?

Currently, CBJ is distributing the CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Test. Printed instructions are included in every test box, or watch a short instructional video on how to use this particular test here.

Most test kits come in a pack that contains two tests:

  • If the first test is negative, you should retest 36–72 hours after your first test.
  • If either one of the test results is positive, you are considered positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection.
    • If the first test is positive, you do not need to do the second test as a subsequent negative test does not overrule the first positive test.

Two negative test results should be interpreted with caution in symptomatic individuals. Consider getting tested at CBJ’s COVID-19 Drive-Thru testing facility (register online or call 907-586-6000), SEARHC, your healthcare provider, or another provider, especially if you have common COVID-19 symptoms, or if you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days.

When does the rapid antigen test that I received from CBJ expire?

CBJ has been distributing CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Tests.  FDA has extended the expiration dates as follows:

  • For tests that have a printed shelf life being March 2022, the new expiration date is June 30, 2022.
  • For tests that have a printed shelf life being April 2022, the new expiration date is July 31, 2022.
  • For tests that have a printed shelf life being May 2022, the new expiration date is August 31, 2022.

If I test positive, what should I do?

If you test positive, please isolate and notify close contacts that they may need to quarantine.

  • Read the latest CDC guidance on Isolation and Quarantine
  • Isolation means you should stay in a specific room away from other people. If possible, you should use a separate bathroom. Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils. You should not go to work, school, church, or gatherings.
  • A close contact is anyone – either 48 hours before symptom onset or 48 hours before testing positive until the time you started isolating – you’ve been within six feet of for 15 or more cumulative minutes over a 24 hour period.
  • Share your positive test results with your healthcare provider or Juneau Public Health Center at 907-465-3353 to learn about possible treatment options or any other appropriate medical follow-up you might need.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms. If your symptoms become worrisome, contact your healthcare provider. If you experience any emergency symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or confusion, call 911.
  • Currently, people who test positive on self-tests do not need to report their results to the Alaska Division of Public Health (DPH). DPH is not currently performing contact tracing on self-test results.
  • If the test kits were provided to you by a school, workplace, event, or other group or organization, the associated entity might ask you to share your results with them. If so, contact tracing might be initiated by your school, workplace, or organization.

If you have questions about how to isolate or how to notify your contacts, call Juneau Public Health Center at 907-465-3353.

Does my positive test result get counted in official COVID-19 numbers?

No. While positive results are not counted in Alaska Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS) COVID-19 numbers per guidance, CBJ asks Juneau residents to report positive at-home test results to Juneau Public Health (907-465-3353) to learn about possible treatment options or any other appropriate medical follow-up that might be needed.

Since these positive test results don’t get counted in Alaska Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS) numbers, they do not get counted in City and Borough of Juneau COVID-19 either since CBJ gets its COVID data from DHSS.

But, if you are a student or staff of the Juneau School District and you test positive through an at-home, rapid test, you should report that to your school. JSD will report it in its COVID-19 Case Log and will recommend that person get a PCR test (through the drive-thru testing facility, SEARHC, or another provider); the same person will not be reported twice.

If I test negative but am feeling sick, what should I do?

Most test kits come in a pack that contains two tests. If the first test is negative, you should use the second test 36-72 hours later. If both tests are negative but you have continuing or worsening symptoms that are consistent with common COVID-19 symptoms, you should get a PCR test through CBJ’s COVID-19 Drive-Thru testing facility (register online or call 907-586-6000), SEARHC, your healthcare provider, or another provider.

We received self-tests from the Juneau School District. How should those be used?

The Juneau School District uses self-tests as an option for not fully vaccinated and asymptomatic students and staff who choose to follow a testing protocol rather than quarantine when they are exposed in a classroom or identified as a close contact. Read about the Test to Stay Program protocols here.