At-Home, Rapid COVID-19 Tests

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The City and Borough of Juneau is distributing at-home, rapid antigen tests to community members.

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

As of December 1, CBJ is distributing free at-home tests to the public from the following locations:

  • City Hall Cash Office
  • All Juneau Public Libraries – Downtown, Mendenhall Valley, and Douglas
  • Dimond Park Aquatic Center

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 one of these CBJ facilities to pick up at-home tests if you’re feeling sick.

What is an at-home, rapid antigen test? And when should I use one?

An at-home COVID-19 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 15 minutes, and is a useful tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

If you’re feeling sick, even with mild symptoms, or have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you can take an at-home test to find out if you have COVID-19. Even if you don’t have symptoms and have not been exposed to an individual with COVID-19, using a self-test before gathering indoors with others can give you information about the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. This is especially important before gathering with unvaccinated childrenolder individuals, those who are immunocompromised, or individuals at risk of severe disease.

These at-home, rapid tests are antigen 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 QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 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.

If I test positive, what should I do?

If you test positive:

  • Please isolate yourself from others for 10 days (regardless of vaccination status or lack of symptoms). This means you should stay in a specific room away from other people and pets. 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.
  • Please notify your close contacts that they should quarantine. A close contact is anyone – either 48 hours before symptom onset or 48 hours before testing positive – you’ve been within six feet of for 15 or more cumulative minutes over a 24 hour period.
    • Fully vaccinated contacts:
      • Do not need to quarantine unless they become symptomatic
      • Should get a test 5-7 days after exposure regardless of lack of symptoms
      • Should wear a mask around others for 14 days or until their test is negative
      • Should test immediately if symptoms develop
    • Partially or unvaccinated contacts:
      • Need to quarantine for one of the below options:
        • 10 days from last exposure (no test required unless they have symptoms), or
        • Quarantine for 7 days, if they get a test on Day 5-7 and that test is negative
      • Should test immediately if symptoms develop
  • 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.
  • 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. Public Health can offer guidance on isolation and contact tracing but is not officially 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 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 at-home tests from the Juneau School District. How should those be used?

The Juneau School District uses at-home tests as an option for 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.

I’ve recently traveled. Can I use an at-home test to see if I caught COVID-19 while away or traveling?

In light of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, if you’ve recently traveled, please take the free COVID-19 PCR test that’s offered at the Juneau International Airport upon arrival. Similarly, if you’ve recently traveled and test positive on an at-home antigen test, please take a follow-up PCR test at a local health provider or CBJ’s drive-thru testing site (register online or call 907-586-6000). Positive PCR test results from the airport or other facilities are sent to the State Public Health Lab for potential sequencing.