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The Chicago Department of Health is working to make rapid COVID tests at home free and accessible

CHICAGO (WLS) – Hidden behind the CVS front desk are COVID tests at home. At $ 23.99 per box, they are quickly selling as a popular pre-Thanksgiving item.

“These are antigen tests. So when people have symptoms and have a certain level of virus, they will test positive,” said Dr. Nimmi Rajagopal of Cook County Health Family & Community Medicine.

With results in 15 minutes, doctors said the rapid home tests are great tools for determining if someone is contagious.

“So if you’re having a Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s a good idea to test yourself that day before meeting with friends and family,” said Dr. Jennifer Seo, medical director of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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And when time permits, doctors advise unvaccinated people in particular to do a PCR test first and then the home test. Although it takes a few days to get results, the PCR test remains the test that is required when traveling to certain countries.

“It’s more sensitive, so it’s better to examine someone who is not experiencing symptoms,” said Dr. Rajagopal.

Medical experts say if you have symptoms and are concerned about being contagious, a home test is the way to go.

While other countries like the UK and Germany offer free take-away tests, the CDPH is working to make the tests free and accessible.

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“We distributed home tests to community clinics and aldermen offices to improve access across the city,” said Dr. Seo.

If you have symptoms and your home test comes back negative, doctors want to remind you that it could be the flu and it is also very contagious.

Cook County marked a dismal milestone on Wednesday when the coroner confirmed that more than 12,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the 20 months since the county’s first fatal case.

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