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State launches site for free at-home COVID-19 tests

January 21, 2022 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington launched a new state portal Friday for residents to order free at-home COVID-tests, but health officials are urging patience since the state has only been able to acquire a portion of the 3.5 million tests that will be ultimately be made available.

At a news conference, Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah said the state has about 650,000 tests on hand and wanted to get them out as quickly as possible instead of waiting for the remainder.

Shah said ongoing supply chain issues are frustrating, but that officials are “doing everything we can at the state and local levels to procure tests.”

The state portal is separate from the site that was launched by the federal government earlier this week, which allows four at-home tests per residential address, to be delivered by the Postal Service.

Under the state’s partnership with Amazon and CareEvolution, each household in Washington state will be able to order one testing kit, which includes either four or five tests, and the kits are expected to arrive within one to two weeks.

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Those who don’t have access to the internet or need a translator will be able to order at-home testing kits through the state’s COVID-19 hotline (1-800-525-0127).

“Not everyone who wants a test will be able to order a test today through this process,” Shah said. “Patience is the word.”

But he said that the state will be replenishing supply until they hit the 3.5 million test commitment.

Lacy Fehrenbach, the state’s deputy secretary for COVID-19 response, noted the other ways people can get free tests in the meantime, including through the federal site. Additionally, people can go to community health centers. Under the state’s plan, in addition to the state portal, community health centers and schools are each receiving 1 million tests.

Also, since last weekend, private insurers are required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans.