More reliable COVID-19 PCR tests are coming to Roosevelt Island, RIOC abruptly announced on Friday. There was a less than one day notice, but no details, and misinformation and secrecy both still plague the site.
By David Stone
If RIOC’s COVID-19 rapid testing is failing, as it appears, the main cause may be the State’s rigid resistance to disclosing details. Who is their partner? What’s their experience? Who’s paying?
All these went unanswered, but the state aggressively marketed the operation, infusing misleading information into their pitch. RIOC, for example, implied that their rapid tests made it safe to socialize again, although the tests are notorious for false negative rates up to 50%.
RIOC never cited a single medical expert in their claims nor have they withdrawn them. And while their webpage Q&A still misleads, they have now added reliable COVID-19 PCR tests. These are not free and come with a $200 per test price tag.
Of course, RIOC being RIOC, answerable to no one, clarifying details were omitted.
But, here’s what experts at Memorial Healthcare say:
There are essentially two broad categories of testing:
- Antigen test (frequently referred to as a rapid test). This test detects protein fragments specific to the Coronavirus. It can be done in a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital. Turnaround time for results is usually very quick and in some cases, results can be reported within 15 minutes.
- PCR test. PCR testing is considered the “gold standard” in SARS-CoV-2 detection. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms. The test can be done in a clinic, hospital, or even in your car. Turnaround time is longer, generally in the 2-3 day range but results can be in as little as 24 hours. When demand is high, results can take a week or longer.
WHO SHOULD GET A RAPID TEST?
Rapid tests are considered most accurate in a patient who is having symptoms of COVID-19. While the rapid test can get you results very quickly, the results may not always be accurate.
WHAT DOES A FALSE NEGATIVE OR FALSE POSITIVE MEAN?
In those who don’t have symptoms, the false negative rate — meaning my test is negative but I actually have the disease — can be as high as 50%. This can have tremendous consequences as we try to contain the spread of COVID-19.
RIOC adds COVID-19 tests…
Find details about the rapid testing site here, but don’t expect to learn any of the things smart medical shoppers need to know.
For example, RIOC refuses offering information about their partner, Swift Rapid Testing. A puff piece in Patch said the site would be run by real estate developer Hudson and Swift Emergency Care. But neither has any experience in rapid testing, and Hudson’s track record on Roosevelt Island is spotty, at best.
In the article, RIOC acting president/CEO Shelton Haynes is quoted as saying this is “the first in a network of rapid testing sites that will open across the state.” But no other sites are open anywhere, according to company’s website, and this leaves Roosevelt Island their guinea pig.
That, at least partly, explains the apparent secrecy. Without a story to tell, they’ve chosen not to say anything.
And it probably also helps explain why COVID-19 PCR tests were suddenly added. They really are what the community needs, and RIOC’s failure to do the right thing out of gate appears a bigger gaffe every day.
After all, at minimal cost, the State agency could have encouraged use of the city’s chain of free COVID-19 rapid testing sites, all along. And arranged transportation for challenged residents on a schedule.
RIOC did none of those things and, after firing CEO Susan Rosenthal, failed at continuing her firm support of safety protocols.
Residents have been understandably dubious, and until RIOC steps out of the shadows with some truth-telling, their efforts will continue failing.
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