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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Health Departments Begin Distributing Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Abbott BinaxNOW Home Test kit
With the BinaxNOW test kit, users connect virtually with medical professionals who guide them on administering the tests and stay with them until the results are known, which takes about 15 minutes.

Public health departments are beginning to receive the rapid COVID-19 tests the state purchased with $50 million of federal CARES act funding.

Two local departments are putting them to use.

Commissioner Donna Skoda says Summit County Public Health has started distributing the 2,000 BinaxNOW test kits they got to congregate living sites, jails, schools and the free clinic. These tests can be done in-home with results available in about 15 minutes.

Skoda says they’ve used them on one potential outbreak, confirming results with the more accurate PCR test with very promising results.

Portage County has sent 500 kits each to NEOMED and Hiram College.

“We are just trying to get the word out now that we have them available and that folks can stop in and pick them up,” Health Center Administrator Nicole Coy said.

Coy says users have to download an app, register and make sure they have a camera with good visibility.

Rapid COVID-19 tests available at Hiram College
Health center administrator Nicole Coy talks about how it works.
photo of Hiram College entrance

“The eMed doc needs to be able to see you clearly so you have to have a device that has a center camera," Coy said. "So a desktop with a camera on it or a laptop, something that provides a view so the eMed doc can see you the entire time that you swab and administer the actual test.”

A smartphone camera can also be used.

Coy says the doctor stays on the line until the results are known, which takes about 15 minutes.

The tests are free and no appointment is necessary to pick one up. They are available at Hiram College's Julia Church Health Center, 6780 Hinsdale St., Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

People can call the health center for more information at 330-569-5418.

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.