The City of Socorro will start using CareStart COVID-19 Antigen rapid tests to test employees at local businesses for the coronavirus.

Starting next week, the City of Socorro is going to start implementing rapid testing for the local businesses.

“The City of Socorro is following the governor’s lead in trying to turn our city from red to green,” Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker said. “We are going to supply the businesses with rapid testing that will give us an answer in 10 minutes as to a person being negative or positive at no cost to the businesses.”

According to Bhasker, the test costs $25 with another $25 for a processing fee. The city has set aside $30,000 to cover the testing costs. JC Trujillo and Positive Outcomes brought the idea of rapid testing to the city. The tests, COVID-19 Antigen, will be done through a company called CareStart.

To take the test, the patients will form a line at the testing spot. Each person will be asked a series of questions which include where they were exposed and if it has been at least five days since exposure. They will also have to discuss what the exposure was — wearing a mask during a conversation, eating dinner with family, etc. The nasal test will then be performed by an EMT because there is a certain technique needed to make sure it is done correctly. Bhasker said he will have the patients leave the testing area while waiting for the results.

The patient will receive a phone call with the results. For the test, a cotton swab will be put up the patient’s nose. The swab will then go into a device that looks similar to a pregnancy test. There is a pink controlled line and if a black line shows up below, that person has a positive result for the coronavirus.
Rapid COVID-19 test

After a rapid test is taken, a black line will appear after the pink control line if the patient is positive for COVID-19. Courtesy of Ravi Bhasker | El Defensor Chieftain photos

The COVID-19 Antigen test is 90 percent reliable. According to Bhasker, roughly 1 percent of the tests are false negatives and 9 percent are false positives. If there is any question about the validity of the test, they can do the test that gets sent to a lab.

The Department of Health is accepting the test as valid and the city has to report the results to the DOH. Bhasker said that the tests will first be available to businesses and then slowly opened to the public. He wants to focus on businesses first to make sure there are no employees who could possibly spread the virus to customers.

With the current COVID-19 tests, someone has to wait five days to get tested after exposure and then wait at least six more days for their results. This causes them to possibly miss 11 or more days of work, which could lead to financial implications. Businesses are also struggling with an employee missing two or more weeks of work because there may not be another worker who could cover.

“There are businesses here in town who have called people who were waiting for their results to come back to work,” Bhasker said. “Unfortunately what happened in one business was the person went back to work and exposed some people there. If you don’t have rapid testing, that’s a problem.”

Currently, Walmart has a deal with Quest Lab. All of their employees are testing and the results are returned within three days.“Even three days is not fast enough in my opinion for it to be usable by people who are positive,” Bhasker said.

Bhasker said he thinks this will help control the spread of the virus because people will not have to miss as much work. He said the main problem with the current orders is that he can tell people that they need to quarantine, but it can’t be enforced. With the rapid test, people will know in 10 minutes if quarantine is required.

“I wish that was being pushed at the federal and state level, but we are going to push it here in the city,” he said.