Fairfield DNA testing center adapts to offer rapid COVID-19 tests

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

It can sometimes take multiple days before someone learns if they have the novel coronavirus, but a Fairfield company is providing results within minutes.

A person developing symptoms can sign up online to take the rapid antigen test at DNA Diagnostics Center, drive to the Fairfield location at the designated time and find out within 15 minutes whether he or she has COVID-19.

But the rapid test isn’t free ― it’s $99 ― though it’s less than most urgent care costs in the region, said Lonny Schwartz, spokesman for the DNA testing facility.

“A lot of people are just having a tough time just getting in to see somebody that same day,” he said. “It’s just a matter of convenience and support for the community where it’s needed.”

There also is the potential for insurance reimbursement, but Schwartz said that’s up to a person’s insurance company.

Thousands of cases of COVID-19 are being reported by the Ohio Department of Health, though they have dropped from nearly 6,400 new cases reported on Jan. 20 to more than 4,300 new cases reported on Monday. Vaccine distribution started in mid-December with frontline health care workers and now Ohio’s older population and people with severe medical issues can also begin taking the vaccine, which requires two doses separated by multiple weeks.

Schwartz said they are not trying to compete with any medical facility offering the test.

“If someone can get this through their doctor’s office, then that’s a great option for them as well,” he said, adding doctor offices may not offer the rapid tests. “We’re not trying to make a business out of this. We’re just trying to provide a service for people that don’t have access to it in other ways.”

Schwartz said many of their employees are working remotely, which provides the space for the drive-through tests.

Some have been critical of the quick tests for providing false negatives, said Dr. Imran Naqvi, vice president of medical affairs at The Jewish Hospital–Mercy Health. But there are advantages, he said.

“The rapid turnaround time of antigen tests facilitates earlier isolation of infectious people,” said Naqvi, commenting on the type of test and not the one offered by DNA Diagnostics. “Antigen tests can be an important tool in an overall community testing strategy to reduce transmission.”

He said the rapid tests have “performed well” when there is a significant viral load.

“Incorporating quick identification of COVID-19 positive people so they can isolate will help prevent the spread of this disease,” said Naqvi.

The most common test people take is the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, at their doctor’s office. That test can take a day or two before results are known.

People can sign up for the test at DNA Diagnostics’ COVID-19 website, covid-testing.dnacenter.com.

“Most of our appointments are coming from folks that are looking for an immediate answer,” said Schwartz.

After the test is completed, those tested will be provided with a printed report.

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