COVID-19 antibody testing sites are now open in Arkansas

BENTON, Ark. — Highly anticipated COVID-19 antibody testing sites are now open in the state. But what does this mean for Arkansans?

Owner of Arkansas Journey Lab Heather Mason said they began taking blood samples to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies Tuesday at Benton and Hot Springs locations.

“We are just a third-party collection site. We send the lab out and it takes anywhere, from what I was told, two to four business days after they have picked up the specimen,” Mason said.

These specimens will be sent off to Quest Diagnostics for testing. This allows people to get their blood drawn without having to go into a doctor’s office.

RELATED: FDA approves first at-home coronavirus testing kit

Tests must have FDA approval or be run by a CLIA-certified lab, like Quest Diagnostics.

“It’s because many of the tests out there are not of good quality and have not proven to be helpful,” Dr. Nathaniel Smith with the Arkansas Department of Health said.

This test won’t tell you if you have COVID-19.

“It’s important to understand what that test tells and not to confuse that with the PCR tests,” Smith said.

However, the test can provide answers for those who have had the disease or who are wondering if they’ve had it.

“If someone comes in and says, ‘Look, I was sick last month. I wasn’t tested, but I’d like to know whether I had COVID-19,’ well an antibody test would be helpful in that setting,” Smith said.

Anyone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has recovered can use the test to see if they have antibodies.

It can also help identify people who can contribute part of their blood, which can possibly treat those who are seriously ill.

“All we need is a doctor’s order or a requisition from their physician to do the testing. And if somebody actually wanted a test they can come on in and we can make that happen as well,” Mason said.

People with a doctor’s request and no insurance will pay $50. Those with neither will pay out-of-pocket costs.

“Tomorrow, we are going to have more information recommended by our testing advisory group that met yesterday and will have some additional outline for our future in terms of testing,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said.

RELATED: Gov. Hutchinson wants to increase coronavirus testing in Arkansas

Quest anticipates running 150,000 tests per day by early-May.

If you are considering getting an antibody test anywhere in Arkansas, be sure to check with the Department of Health to verify the lab test is FDA-approved.