SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – At-home testing has become very popular, a big reason is it’s very convenient. But it could be clouding some of the state’s COVID-19 data.

22News spoke to testing officials who have been watching local numbers on the rise. Over the past 6-8 weeks AMR is reporting that the number of positive tests has doubled, and they are encouraging people to follow up with an additional test, after an at-home test, to keep community numbers accurate.

The Eastfield Mall testing site has seen increased activity over the past few weeks, however, the extent of this latest spike could be obscured by at-home testing. While convenient, there is no requirement that you report the results of an at-home test, which could lead to gaps in the data.

Watching the number of covid cases in the community remains one of the most effective ways of tracking the pandemic. So health officials suggest that you follow up your at-home test with a call to your doctor or a visit to a testing site.

“Use the home test as a good baseline, it’s definitely a good tool to use. and then leave it to us to do the reporting to the state by getting your PCR swab. you’ll get an official lab report the following day and a phone call giving you advice on who you should reach out to and what to do next. But your physician should be involved in that loop of care,” said Patrick Leonardo, Operations Manager at Western Massachusetts American Medical Response.

Some of the people 22News spoke to at the testing site were looking to confirm the at-home test results.

“Because sometimes the at-home tests don’t work necessarily because they aren’t FDA approved or anything like that, so I just wanted to double-check and make sure that I am actually getting the right test and I’m actually getting the right results,” said Peter Martinez of Springfield.

The PCR test available at testing sites is more accurate than the at-home tests, as it scans for the RNA and DNA of the virus, so getting that additional test is recommended. Many people agreed that even though informing your doctor is not required,* it’s an important step in keeping themselves and the community safe.

“Definitely I think it’s important for the doctor to know what’s going on,” Martinez added.

American Medical Response added that with mother’s day coming up this weekend, it’s important to get tested or postpone that visit if you are not feeling well.