Delaware to roll out rapid antigen COVID tests next week

WILMINGTON — Rapid antigen COVID-19 testing is coming to Delaware.

A.J. Schall, director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, said at the state’s COVID-19 press briefing on Tuesday the state will begin piloting the rapid antigen tests next week. Mr. Schall said there should be two, maybe three, testing events next week which will utilize the antigen tests.

Rapid antigen tests can provide results within the hour, and Mr. Schall thinks it can be a real game changer in Delaware’s attempts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we’re able provide some people with a rapid result, that should help them preparing and communicating with any potential exposures,” Mr. Schall said.

The state is looking to target two specific populations with the rapid antigen tests — individuals over the age of 65 and the young adult demographic. Those 65 and older are at the highest risk for COVID-19 while adults 18-34 years old have been asymptomatic carriers of the disease.

“A lot of the spread is asymptomatic,” Gov. John Carney said. “People who don’t know they’re carrying the virus. So if we can get them tested, the evidence suggests they are willing to quarantine and that’s a good thing. That’s the whole purpose here, to protect others.”

The pilot events for the antigen tests will likely be run concurrently with PCR testing events by Curative Inc., Mr. Schall said. If one of the rapid tests does show a positive result, the individual will also take a PCR test to confirm.

Mr. Schall said, like the Curative Inc. sites, the rapid antigen tests will be free. The data collection will be different however. Test takers will have to print a PDF for a paper form to bring to the testing site.

“It’s a little bit more cumbersome but I think we’re going to work on that to see how we can expedite that,” Mr. Schall said. “That’s why we’re starting small. We’re going to crawl, walk then run with this. We really think it could be a game changer with the rapid results if we go after the right population with this.”

Mr. Schall also said the state will add eight more Walgreens testing sites to its static facilities this week.

For a full list of testing sites, visit de.gov/gettested.

The state also has at-home testing kits available. Those can be requested by visiting de.gov/hometest.

State officials said those looking to receive their result and have enough time to quarantine before the holidays should order their at-home testing kit today.

To be eligible for an at-home test, an individual must live or work in Delaware, have an email address for each person being tested and have a smartphone or tablet to take the test over Zoom with a medical professional.

The average turnaround time for at-home test results is 24 hours from when the lab receives the sample.

Mr. Schall said the state did 52,000 COVID-19 tests over the course of last week, therefore turnaround times for results at Curative Inc. and Walgreens sites have increased. Mr. Schall added while the average time is around 60 hours, he expects it to come down this week due to some strategic scheduling by DEMA.

The state is encouraging registration for its community testing events to reserve a spot, though it hopes to allow all walk-ups as well.

“We’re still not trying to turn anyone away,” Mr. Schall said. “Even if you don’t have a registration, if you show up on time we’ll be able to complete your test.”

Delaware is experiencing a large increase in positive cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

It broke its record with 376 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Delaware Division of Public Health’s daily update on Tuesday. The report, which reflects data as of Monday at 6 p.m., included 690 new positive cases of the virus to bring the state’s total to 47,142 since March 11.

Of those currently hospitalized, 62 cases are considered critical.

The DPH also reported 10 additional deaths, increasing the state’s total to 826. All 10 individuals had underlying health conditions, according to the DPH, and they ranged in age from 60 to 92 years old.

Three of the 10 most recent deaths were residents of long-term care centers. There have been 455 COVID-19 related deaths in long-term care facilities as of Monday at 6 p.m. — 55% of Delaware’s COVID-19-related deaths.

Six of the most recent deaths were New Castle County while two each came from Kent County and Sussex County.

The seven-day rolling average for percentage of positive tests is at 9.6%, which is as of Saturday at 6 p.m. due to a two-day lag to account for the time delay between the date of the test and the date the DPH receives the test result.

Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at tmastro@newszap.com.

Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

Have a question, tip, or resources about the coronavirus pandemic? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll do what we can to provide answers.