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Metro Health: City expanding COVID-19 testing capabilities with mouth swab tests

Health officials say antigen tests are 'very reliable' for people with COVID-19 symptoms

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SAN ANTONIO – The CIty of San Antonio has added COVID-19 testing resources at its testing sites amid the high demand.

Jennifer Herriott, the deputy director of the Metropolitan Health District, said Wednesday that city-facilitated coronavirus testing sites are now conducting antigen testing through mouth swabs in addition to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test which is done with nasal swabs.

Herriott said the state has provided the tests for no additional cost.

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“And so given the number of tests that we’re trying to make available in our community on a daily basis, that was an opportunity for us to test and not have to expand our current resources,” she said during Wednesday’s briefing with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

Health officials use two types of tests to diagnose active cases of the new coronavirus: polymerase chain reaction diagnostic (PCR) tests and antigen tests, according to UT Health San Antonio.

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The Food and Drug Administration says, “antigen tests are more likely to miss an active coronavirus infection compared to molecular (PCR) tests,” however Herriott says the mouth swab tests are “very reliable” if the person being tested has COVID-19 symptoms.

On Monday, the city said its free testing sites would only accept people exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

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