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As COVID-19 Cases Climb, So Do Rapid Test Prices

Coronavirus

CLIVE, Iowa — As COVID-19 cases climb in Iowa, people are rushing to get tested, and they are seeing the price of the rapid test also climbing.

“The price is outrageous to me,” Waukee resident Alexa Carter said.

“It was $80 and then it went up $20 to now $100,” Waukee resident Josh Carter said.

An employee at Health Gauge Rapid COVID-19 Testing said the reason their prices are increasing is because of the high demand.

“A lot of people probably can’t afford that,” Alexa Carter said.

The Office of the Attorney General of Iowa said they are aware of the price increase but have not received any consumer complaints nor have they launched any kind of an investigation.

“It’s harsh, but at the same time the other testing options are certainly not rapid. They’re taking three to four days to get results back, and it’s hard to get in,” Urbandale resident Dan Knoup said.

Some people said the high price tag is worth the short wait time for results.

“I guess I’ll pay for the rapid test if I can go to work right away or not,” Josh Carter said.

“The quicker we get the results, the better for our job site,” Alexa Carter said.

But some doctors said these quick results might not be accurate.

“The test that we have right now is not perfect. We can see as high as 50% of a false negative rate, depending on which test it is,” said Dr. Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease specialist.

The CDC said the rapid tests are generally less sensitive than the viral tests and their performance is dependent on when the test is taken.

“You are most contagious in the two days prior to symptoms even starting. And what ends up happening is when you get tested, there are so many factors that can influence whether that test is an accurate positive or an accurate negative versus a false negative,” Dr. Srinivas said.

Still, some people said knowing their test results right away gives them peace of mind, especially before the holidays.

“We were actually going to get a test anyways because we are leaving tomorrow to go back home. I have grandparents. My wife, she also has grandparents,” Josh Carter said.

“Our oldest is coming back from college for the winter break, or break between the holidays, so we want to know. We feel better safe than sorry,” Knoup said.

There are several rapid testing locations in the metro. There is also a pop-up location from DoctorsNow this weekend in West Des Moines.

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