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KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.Contact the Health & Wealth desk.

Health department launches system for reporting at-home COVID tests

The Biden administration has announced a new investment in at-home COVID tests. Here, an Abbott BinaxNow test.
Ted S. Warren
A growing number of people are using at-home tests, as the federal government prepares to ship millions across the country.

People who test positive for COVID-19 in at-home tests have a new way of reporting their results to local health officials. Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services has launched an online system where residents can input their test result and contact information.

The system asks for demographic data including age, sex and ethnicity, and provides guidance for people who have tested positive.

This effort is especially important know, according to department spokesperson Sara Humm, as at-home tests grow in popularity, and the federal government prepares to ship millions of tests across the country.

“It helps us gather more data to be able to present the public with a better picture of where we’re at in the pandemic," Humm said. That way, "they can make decisions of risk mitigation efforts that they want to put in place in their lives and be able to have the best possible picture of what the virus looks like in our community."

Humm said the department had already received nearly 100 responses as of Thursday afternoon.

While some people may seek a traditional PCR test at a local testing site after getting an at-home result, Humm said the at-home tests are very effective for those with symptoms. The online reporting system is one way their results aren't missing from the department's data.

"For a lot of folks, depending on their situation, they may just take the at home test and not get the PCR," Humm said.

Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services is also running a phone line for people without access to the internet to report their results. The department asks people call 573.874.7634 and leave a voicemail with name, date of birth, race/ethnicity, address, phone number, email address and date of test.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia was a health reporter at KBIA and is documentary filmmaker who focuses on access to care in rural and immigrant communities. A native Spanish speaker and lifelong Missouri resident, Sebastián is interested in the often overlooked and under-covered world of immigrant life in the rural midwest. He has a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri and a master's degree in documentary journalism at the same institution. Aside from public health, his other interests include conservation, climate change and ecology.