Orange County distributing at-home COVID-19 testing kits to residents

The Orange County Health Agency has begun offering at-home testing kits for COVID-19 to county residents

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Saturday, December 26, 2020
Several startups now offering at-home COVID-19 tests to OC residents
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O.C. families now have the option to take COVID-19 tests at home, a welcome relief from the long lines and delayed response times experienced across the Southland.

With long lines outside many COVID-19 testing sites and delays in results, several startups are now offering a solution: at-home test kits.

The Orange County Health Agency has begun offering free at-home testing kits to all OC residents, making the convenient option more widespread.

One of the kits is a saliva-based test from Ambry Genetics that first became available last month in only Santa Ana and Anaheim.

The second is a nasal swab test by Picture Genetics.

Other types of at-home tests are also hitting the market, such as a molecular test from BioSpyder, the more proactive approach for those who are asymptomatic. This "surveillance testing" lets a group of people know if at least one test is positive.

Once you order a test from the BioSpyder website, a box will arrive with four tubes or more, each meant for one person.

After gargling with the provided mouthwash, you spit it back into the tube and ship the box back. Results can be expected in 24-48 hours.

Surveillance testing is not regulated by the FDA since it is focused on a group result, not individual tests.

BioSpyder CEO Joel McComb says that this option can work with companies who want to target certain shifts or departments.

"If you have someone coming in who is asymptomatic, that can have devastating effects on other people who are going to develop symptoms," McComb said.

McComb also warned that these surveillance tests are not a way to get out of safety precautions.

"This does not relieve you from state and federal guidelines," he said.

There is also an at-home test created by Abbott Laboratories that gives results in just 15 minutes. This test comes with a virtual guide.