Rhode Island prepares for new rapid 15-minute COVID-19 test

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – A new coronavirus test is on the horizon for the country. Rhode Island is set to get 300,000 of these new tests called BinaxNOW produced by Abbott Laboratories.

“When we’re thinking about preventing outbreaks and limiting the spread of disease, time matters,” Joseph Wendelken, RIDOH’s Public Information Officer said. “So, if we can get a result even faster than we’re getting now, that means we can start working on contact tracing even faster.”

Instead of waiting days for results from a laboratory test, the BinaxNOW tests will be administered at a doctor’s office. In the same sitting, you’ll get swabbed and 15 minutes later, you’ll have your results.

“What this allows for is for us to start shifting treatment for COVID-19 back to the more traditional healthcare settings that we’re all more accustomed to,” Wendelken said. “I think the testing sites that exist now will still exist, but this is going to be another option for people that in some cases will make more sense.”

White House officials demonstrated the new test at a press conference earlier this week saying it’s not only quicker, but more comfortable, too.

“It starts with six drops of liquid onto this piece of paper,” ADM Brett Giroir explained. “You twist it three times. You wait 15 minutes and that is the test.”

The 300,000 tests will come to Rhode Island in installments from now until the end of the year.

At Governor Gina Raimondo’s weekly press conference, she says they’re working to figure out where the tests will go. She also says she’ll release more information at her press conference next week.

“K-12, colleges, urban communities,” Governor Raimondo said. “It’s a powerful tool and so we’re trying to figure out the best way to use them.”

The tests will not be available to asymptomatic people at first, but the hope is that it will expand to the general public in the future.

The Department of Health says like any other test, false positives occur. However, Abbott says clinical studies show that BinaxNOW has a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of more than 98%, which means only 3 in 100 tests will produce a false positive and fewer than 2 in 100 tests will return a false negative.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island