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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Infection rates and deaths for COVID-19 are on the rise and state government officials are imploring unvaccinated citizens to get a vaccine. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said during a press conference at the State Capitol on Tuesday the number of cases since last week is up about 900 and those hospitalized have increased by 69.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — At-home COVID-19 tests are becoming more widely available across Arkansas.According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at-home tests are good for people with symptoms to get tested without having to go anywhere and allow people to quickly isolate if positive.Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the ADH said the at-home COVID-19 tests are a great tool when used properly.“To test when they have symptoms, and stay home, and not go to work, or not go to school if they have positive tests, then that actually can go a long way toward preventing the spread of COVID-19.”The three main at home test kits have been given emergency use authorization from the FDA, and Dr. Dillaha said they each perform about the same. However, one of the tests made by Australian-based company Ellume issued a recall of approximately 427,000 of its COVID home tests.“People just need to be aware that these tests are not as accurate as the PCR tests, and in certain situations, they need to confirm the result with the PCR.”The at-home tests are similar to the rapid antigen tests that have been available. They look for the presence of COVID-19 proteins. However, Dillaha said there is a chance for false positives and false negatives.“You have to have enough viral particles in your nose for the test to pick up on the presence of those proteins.”That’s why Dillaha said it’s important to follow the directions on the test to get the most accurate result possible.“You need to turn it the right amount of times, and some of the test want you to press the wand to the side of your nose for a period of time.”She said those who have symptoms but get a negative result should follow up with a PCR test, and so should those who test positive but have no symptoms.“Sometimes people will still have COVID without symptoms, and or maybe they just haven't developed symptoms yet.”Dillaha said it’s important for those with symptoms to also be aware of the other respiratory viruses circulating, like the flu, common cold, and RSV.“The important thing is for if people are sick, to stay home, don't go to school, don't go to work, stay home.”Last month, KATV checked in with Kavanaugh Pharmacy owner Anne Pace about the availability of these at-home tests.“We've seen a lot of people increase, the people asking for them, asking how good they are, if they're, you know, good for people to take on trips with them,” she said.At that time, Pace said they couldn’t even order the tests they were in such high demand, but things have taken a turn.“The production and the availability of these tests are much improved, and I understand that people are able to buy them locally at grocery stores and pharmacies,” Dillaha said.Although Arkansas has seen a recent decline in COVID-cases, Dillaha said there are likely multiple contributing factors aside from the at home tests. If an at-home test comes back positive, she said it needs to be reported to the Department of Health call-line at 1-800-803-7847.“We'll be glad to talk them through the situation and figure out what their next steps need to be if they have questions.”While the ADH will do the contact tracing once the cases are reported, those with positive at-home results should also let the people who could have been exposed know themselves.