MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After being closed for days because of Hurricane Isaias, COVID-19 testing ramped up again Wednesday at two of the state’s busiest sites.
There were long lines snaking around Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens and Marlins Park in Miami for most of Wednesday.
Part of the draw was the offer of rapid testing at no cost.
Experts say if you test positive, you have the virus. But if your result is negative, you’re not immediately in the clear.
“It’s going to be good if it’s positive but if it’s negative, you still have to send it out because there are a lot of false negatives with that test,” Dr. Aileen Marty said.
Dr. Marty is an infectious disease specialist at Florida International University. She says despite the concerns for a false negative, rapid tests are needed.
“Getting a fast turnaround and a fast answer is one of the most important things we can do to get our outbreak under control,” she said.
Reggie Dorestan was among the drivers waiting for hours to be tested at Hard Rock.
“I had a positive test. I tested positive twice now. I’m trying to get tested again. It’s been a month and I still have symptoms, at least three,” he said.
The rapid or antigen test, as it’s called, is a nasal swab administered by a health care worker.
It’s for anyone 5 to 17 years of age with or without symptoms and anyone 65 and older with or without symptoms. Anyone 18 or older with symptoms is also eligible for a free rapid test.
“The results are in minutes. You will get a phone call before you get home,” said PIO Mike Jachles.
There will be 1,250 tests available per day at the two state-run sites. The tests are free.
Close to 650 people received a rapid test at Hard Rock Stadium Wednesday.
Dr. Marty says A low positivity rate alone won’t help prevent outbreaks and slow the spread. She says we cannot make the same mistake we did the first time.
“One of the big mistakes we made when we reopened the first time is we reopened without having enough contact tracing or rapid turnaround of testing,” she said.
Hard Rock and Marlins Park are also offering other types of COVID testing for people at least 18 years of age with no symptoms
It is a self-administered oral swab, with results in two to three days.
In addition, there’s antibody test to see if you had the virus. It’s a full blood draw and will tell you whether you had the virus recently or in the past. Results are available in as little as 15 minutes.
So what is the difference between an antigen test and an antibody test?
An antigen is the part of a virus that elicits an immune response. Antigen tests look for antigen proteins. An antigen test can only reveal whether a person is currently infected with COVID-19. Before or after the infection has passed, antigens won’t be present.
Antibody tests are blood tests that reveal if a person has already been exposed to the virus and developed immunities.
An RT-PCR nasopharyngeal test is the more common test to determine whether a person has the live virus.
While antigen tests yield faster results, they are also less accurate then RT-PCR tests, according to Healthline.com, which reports false-negative results from antigen tests may range as high as 20 to 30 percent.
Drive-thru sites are also offering antibody testing.
The antibody test tells you whether you have been infected. If you have IgM antibodies you likely had a more recent infection. If you have IgG antibodies, more likely you were infected further in the past.
Click here to find a state-supported site near you.