A new COVID-19 testing resource is opening today at the Rutherford Crossing testing site north of Winchester in the Stephenson area.

The testing site is located behind the Valley Health Urgent Care and Winchester Family Practice building at 160 Merchant St., Suite 200, Winchester, and already offers COVID-19 testing.

As of today, though, it will also offer Sophia 2 SARS rapid antigen tests through a primary care physician order, said Jason Craig, director of urgent care and employer health for Valley Health’s central region.

“Some of the health care providers do have them in their offices,” he said.

Those that don’t can refer their patients to the Rutherford Crossing site for testing so patients don’t have to visit an urgent care center for a test.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“The major difference is Rutherford Crossing currently has been our testing site for PCR testing,” Craig said.

Both are diagnostic tests, the Food and Drug Administration explains at its website, tinyurl.com/y5cuf5lw.

The molecular RT-PCR tests detect the virus’s genetic material, and antigen tests detect specific proteins from the virus, the FDA says.

PCR tests are the most commonly used tests and the ones that the Virginia Department of Health’s online COVID-19 dashboard relies on for accurate, up-to-date data on the spread of the virus. PCR tests give the most accuracy, though they can take several days to return results.

The rapid tests can send back results within about 15 minutes, and Craig said they’re gaining in accuracy.

“They’ve improved,” he said. However, the test is intended for symptomatic testing, he explained.

“The rapid testing is the most accurate with symptoms,” he said.

The Sophia test used at the Rutherford Crossing site states “a 96.7% sensitivity rate for detecting the virus,” Craig said.

“[T]his new lab service will be for collection and testing as a support for offices that do not have rapid antigen testing capabilities,” he said. “Results will be communicated back to the referring provider.”

Telehealth is offered through the Rutherford Crossing site as well as Valley Health’s other ambulatory offices, as needed, he said. Following testing at the site, doctors ordering a test might then choose to follow up with a telehealth visit, if needed.

“The cost of the test is covered by insurance and is determined by the health plan an individual has,” he said. For others, he said, the test is $75, though federal programs can help cover the cost for patients who qualify.

“I think this is just another great service that we’re able to provide for the community,” Craig said.

Though he said other areas of the Lord Fairfax Health District could see increased testing in the future, he said for now the Winchester/Frederick County area is seeing “the biggest need.”

As of Monday, Frederick County had reported 3,568 cases throughout the pandemic, along with 141 hospitalizations and 25 deaths.

Around the district, Shenandoah County had the second-highest total with 2,080 cases, 140 hospitalizations and 71 deaths.

Winchester has had 1,607 cases, 75 hospitalizations and eight deaths.

Warren County has had 1,272 cases, 69 hospitalizations and 31 deaths.

Page County has had 996 cases, 72 hospitalizations and 33 deaths.

Clarke County has had 360 cases, 21 hospitalizations and five deaths.

“We’re excited to get this and of course excited to continue the vaccine efforts as well,” Craig said.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com