State Announces Antigen Testing Plan for School, Prison, DHS Employees

Oct 15, 2020

On Wednesday, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the state will start using antigen testing kits to conduct weekly COVID-19 testing of employees at certain public school districts, as well as at all state prisons and Human Development Centers run by the Department of Human Services. The tests will be performed using BinaxNOW kits made by Abbott Laboratories that return results in about 15 minutes without the use of any other equipment. So far, the state has received about 100,000 kits from the federal government and expects to receive 50,000 more kits each week. About 55 percent of the kits will be used to test public school employees, another 40 percent will be split evenly between the Department of Corrections and DHS, and the remaining five percent will be kept in reserve for use as needed. Arkansas Secretary of Education Johnny Key also outlined how the state will determine which districts qualify for weekly antigen testing. Antigen tests, which detect proteins on the surface of the virus, are generally less sensitive than PCR tests, which detect the virus's genetic material. That means antigen tests are more likely to deliver false negatives and positives. To watch the governor's announcement, click here.