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Dubuque County health officials concerned about rise in over-the-counter COVID-19 testing kits sales as positive cases increase

Over-the-counter COVID-19 testing kits have become more sought after as people are looking to...
Over-the-counter COVID-19 testing kits have become more sought after as people are looking to get results almost immediately, according to public health officials.
Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 4:52 AM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Pharmacist Fran Liddiard said over-the-counter COVID-19 tests are selling quick at Nightingale Drug in Dubuque.

He said the demand is certainly there.

“We get calls from all over and then people come in also trying to find them,” he added.

Liddiard mentioned most people are looking for tests because they are traveling and need to show a negative result. He said the ones they sell give out the results in less than 15 minutes.

However, the rise in demand for those over-the-counter tests are a cause of concern for public health officials in the county.

“Most of them are the nasal swabs and sometimes people are weary to put something in your nostril, but you really need to get a good sample with those over the counter tests to get a good result,” Patrice Lambert, the county’s public health director, explained.

The public health department’s second concern is that results to those tests are not passed along to local health officials. Lambert added that is especially worrisome now as the county is seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. This week, the county reported more than 400 new positive COVID-19 cases.

Lambert said that is the reason why they are encouraging people to try the free Test Iowa PCR tests. The local public health department and some pharmacies, including those under the Nightingale Drug umbrella, offer them.

“That data that is provided to us through the Hygienic Lab, the private labs, goes to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH),” she mentioned. “IDPH then gives us that data so that we can plan as a county on what level we are at regarding our social mitigation strategies.”

According to Lambert the PCR tests do not only help with identifying how many positive cases there are in the county, but also with contact tracing.

“For all of the positive COVID tests we have a contact tracer that will pick up the phone, call that individual, go through all of the guidelines regarding isolation, quarantine, address any question that they may have with COVID itself,” she added. “Any testing is better than none, but what we would really like to recommend people do is to look at those free tests, and then we would be able to get that data, and we can follow up on the individuals that are positive.”

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