As new COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to drop and vaccination rates keep increasing, many Garden State residents are feeling less anxious. But they still may want to get tested. Now there’s a widely available and easy at home option.

Most COVID testing locations across the state take at least a few days to get results, but New Jersey pharmacies and discount stores are now carrying COVID-19 antigen self tests that are moderately priced and give results in about 15 minutes.

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the state Health Department, said the new at-home test kits work similarly to a pregnancy test and the same technology as the rapid-test antigen tests conducted in doctors' offices.

“Obviously, the big advantage is you get a result very rapidly," he said.

He stressed this nasal swab test, if done correctly, is very accurate.

“If it comes back positive and you’re feeling at all ill, you can be pretty sure that’s a true positive and that you have the disease and certainly we’d want you to talk to your doctor," he said.

At the same time Dr. Lifshitz pointed out this kind of COVID test may not be completely accurate if your COVID exposure was very recent.

"You might just be turning positive and just might not have enough virus that the test would be positive,” he said.

He said the at-home test kit often come packaged as two separate tests “because what they want you to do is not just test yourself once, but then go ahead and repeat that test, just in case you essentially did it a little bit too early and there wasn’t enough virus for that test to turn positive."

He added whether you go to one of the 1,700 testing sites across the state or use an at-home test, it's important to get tested if you suspect that you have been exposed or have traveled.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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