Wednesday, April 14, 2021
COVID Testing Options Include Rapid Antigen Tests
Students emerge from Wood River High School wearing masks as the coronavirus remains entrenched in the valley.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020




Editor’s Note: As scientists continue to work on a COVID-19 vaccine, testing remains a key strategy for mitigation and suppression of COVID-19.

Blaine County recorded five more cases on Tuesday, for a total of 1,007 cases. After reaching 500 cases on May 10 and did not hit 600 until Aug. 27, according to Paul Ries. It hit 700 on Oct. 5, 800 on Oct. 17 and 900 on Oct. 30….just 10 days ago.

Joy Prudek of St. Luke’s Wood River thought it would be helpful to review what tests are available to those in the Wood River Valley at this time:

  • COVID Outreach Wood River

    Testing expanded this past week when the new COVID Outreach Wood River, led by Dr. Tom Archie, an independent physician, began offering free nasal swab PCR tests. The tests might be particularly helpful for asymptomatic people who have had close contact with a known positive and had difficulty getting tests before. Or, those who want to be tested before visiting an elderly relative or those who need one for a medical procedure outside the valley.

    Idaho continued to exceed 1,200 new cases a day on Tuesday, with 1,201 new cases on Tuesday for a total of 75,428 cases. Ten more Idahoans have died from COVID-19—714 in total.

    This testing will also be prioritized for local congregated living facilities such as the Advocates and the Men’s Second Chance Living home. Due to limited testing capacity and supplies, St. Luke’s continues to prioritize testing resources for symptomatic patients and for asymptomatic patients prior to a procedure at St. Luke’s or to facilitate a transfer to a congregated living facility.

    St. Luke's is enthusiastic about this additional testing initiative as it aims to assist with rapid detection of new cases and provides education about what to do in the event of an exposure and how to interpret test results. Positive tests are referred to South Central Public Health District for contact tracing.

  • Turnaround times for symptomatic outpatients tested by St. have improved to approximately 24 -48 hours or less depending on time of collection and transport to St. Luke’s Core Lab in Boise.St. Luke’s was recently able to obtain additional supplies that enable a greater number of these PCR tests, which continue to be the Gold standard in COVID testing, to be run at the Core Lab in Boise.

    St. Luke’s will also begin utilizing recently acquired lab capacity that will add the ability to run another 900 tests/day as early as next week.

  • St. Luke’s Wood River Family Medicine providers are now equipped with rapid Antigen tests for use when clinically appropriate.Antigen tests can rapidly detect proteins in the virus using a nasal or throat swab at point of care, similar to a strep test.

Antigen tests are highly accurate but false negatives are still possible.  Therefore, a provider may also order a PCR test as a follow-up.  St. Luke’s continues to pursue acquiring additional Antigen testing capabilities to increase point-of-care testing with rapid results. Timely results help individuals take appropriate measures to notify close contacts sooner, thereby helping to decrease transmission of the virus.

It is important to remember that testing alone is not a strategy.  It is still critical to quarantine if you have symptoms, have been exposed to a known positive or to someone with symptoms waiting for a test result. 

Asymptomatic spread of the virus, particularly within a household, has been identified as a predominant cause of the increase in cases, which has moved Blaine County in the critical risk category and to a rate not experienced since Spring.

St. Luke’s asks the community to help slow the spread of the virus with these measures:

  • Understand that a negative test is not a “hall pass,” as you may be infectious or develop symptoms subsequent to testing negative.Quarantining and isolating, even within your household, is vital to mitigating and suppressing COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and avoid gathering with people outside your household.

For more information on COVID – 19 resources visit  To use the self-triage tool, visit For additional testing information, visit




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