ISDH changes rapid test criteria, experts recommend face mask ‘upgrades’ – WNDU-TV

INDIANA (WNDU) – Obtaining a Covid-19 rapid antigen test could prove to be more challenging in the Hoosier State after the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) announced eligibility changes for people seeking tests at state-run sites and local health departments.

Starting January 4th, rapid tests at those sites will only be available for people ages 18 and younger or people ages 50 and older – who are symptomatic.

ISDH cited a national rapid test shortage as one reason for the criteria changing.

“Indiana typically uses about 50,000 rapid tests per week but is only guaranteed to receive 11,000 a week at this time,” ISDH said in a news release.

Health officials said limiting the age range helps ensure that students can stay in school – meaning they’ll get rapid results that could nearly rule out a Covid-19 infection and allow them to remain in the classroom.

Plus, the change helps identify infected Hoosiers who are most likely to need antibodies, who can only get the infusions within a certain time frame.

“You know, if you needed to go back to work, having a rapid test is most helpful. So that’s where the restrictions on the state-provided tests are going to create some anxiety and some mismatched expectations that we’re just going to have to learn to navigate,” commented Dr. Mark Fox, M.D., of the St. Joseph County Health Department.

The changes for rapid test eligibility do not apply to private health clinics or federally-qualifying health centers.

Face masks: ‘Aspire for higher’

With the Omicron variant credited for the rapid rise in Covid cases, some health experts are encouraging people to upgrade face masks.

Dr. Fox stated the highest quality, N95, are used in hospitals because they are good at preventing the spread of infections and reducing infection risks.

KN-95s are also effective, he said.

Fox says those white/light blue surgical masks and cloth face masks are less effective in terms of preventing infection (you catching the virus) but are better than nothing.

He and Dr. Bob Cassady, M.D., of the South Bend Clinic, recommend layering face masks to reduce the chances of transmitting Covid-19 in public.

“If your mask, like a cloth mask, has more than one layer, that should be sufficient. If it doesn’t, then it would be good to combine it with with a paper mask,” said Cassady.

There is no “formal” change in recommendations, though.

“But many people in public health are encouraging people to wear the highest quality mask available,” Fox said.

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