DALLAS — At-home COVID-19 tests, while hard to come by now, have made rapid testing easier for anyone who managed to get their hands on one.
They're also one reason, officials said, why the number of COVID-19 cases is likely higher than what's being reported.
Positive tests received through doctors offices, clinics and public testing sites are then reported to counties, which release updated data on case totals and trends.
But the only way for an at-home positive test to end up in that data is if the person self-reports the result.
Some counties, such as Tarrant County, offer a self-reporting option on the county health website. But some counties, such as Denton County, don't have an option, and others, like Dallas and Collin counties, don't appear to have an easy way to self-report a positive test.
Dallas County's website refers questions about self-testing to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance, which says anyone who tests positive should isolate and report the result to their healthcare provider.
While the number of COVID-19 cases would likely be inflated by at-home results, it's difficult to determine by how much.
Retailers haven't released at-home test sales totals, though Amazon, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens have all limited the number of kits customers can buy, due to their high demand.
Tarrant County, which offers a self-report function, has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, including 1,191 new cases reported Wednesday. And with or without all at-home cases being reported, that's enough for county health officials to know which way cases are trending.
"Not everyone self reports, which is fine," said Vinny Taneja, the Tarrant County Public Health Director. "All we need is a trend, and right now, the trend is telling us that it's high again."