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County to distribute at-home test kits

At-home antigen testing may be the next step in the community fight against coronavirus.

“We are now making rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen testing available,” said Marietta-Belpre Health Commissioner Anne Goon on Friday.

Goon explained that the state of Ohio purchased 2 million at-home test kits that have been distributed to some local health districts, including the joint municipal district for coordination across Washington County.

“This is a test that’s done entirely at home during a telehealth session,” she explained, noting results are done in 15 minutes if the participant has adequate access to internet. “The big caveats are as an individual has to have a smartphone, and they have to have a laptop or a tablet or computer with a camera that they can reposition to actually be looking directly at the test because that’s part of what the validation process is. During the telehealth visit the proctor has to be able to see the test, make sure it’s done properly.”

Goon said 13 distribution sites have been arranged by the joint health department, five of which will be open to the public, including Belpre City Schools, the Marietta Fire Department, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Marietta-Belpre Health Department (304 Putnam St., Marietta) and Washington-Morgan Community Action.

Goon said the at-home tests will require use of a smartphone app and QR code to request from one of the public sites.

As of press time Sunday, identification of the remaining sites had not been provided.

County vaccination

clinic today

Regional Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Crystal Earley, with the Washington County Health Department, said today’s vaccination clinic will be impacted by last week’s winter weather.

“(We are) rescheduling (the) second (dose of) Moderna that was supposed to be Monday, date to be determined,” she said. “(There is a) weather delay on shipment still.”

But those who were scheduled to receive either their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine will still see shots available today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Broughton Community Center on Ohio 821 just outside Marietta city limits.

She also noted that those scheduled to receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine will instead receive a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“(We’re) just increasing number of Pfizer first doses,” she said, noting that the department did not want to schedule the second dose of the Moderna vaccine without the shots in hand to administer. “Everyone will be taken care of within the timeframe of 42 days. No need to call to schedule; we will send (an) invitation from (the) previously filled out interest forms.”

Goon said Friday the 42-day window was an extension blessed by national health experts studying strains of coronavirus and the efficacy of the two vaccines.

“So we know that Pfizer second doses can be given at 21 days, and Moderna can be given at 28, but it extends it up to 42 days after those first doses for both of those vaccines,” she explained to the Marietta-Belpre board of health. “And then in exceptional situations, it does allow the mixing of Pfizer and Moderna shots … it’s not recommended but it is allowed in exceptional situations. So for example, someone doesn’t have the card and they don’t know what they got the first time. … If there’s no way of figuring out what they received, then they could be given whatever that vaccine provider has available. It also would allow for situations where you don’t have any doses of the type of vaccine that they need and you’d be falling outside that six-week time period, but you have doses of the other vaccine. It could be given in that situation as well, but it’s really is designed for exceptional situations.”

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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