OLYMPIA — The state Department of Health and Human Services will continue to provide residents with free COVID-19 home testing kits through at least the end of 2022, although federal financial support for testing programs has ended, officials announced this week.
The federal government announced in August that it would no longer offer free COVID-19 tests at home.
Washington residents can purchase up to 10 free at-home testing kits per month through the Say Yes! COVID test” program.
To order, visit sayyescovidhometest.org. The kits are delivered free of charge to the customer’s home or work address.
“With upper respiratory tract peak season, at-home testing offers a way for individuals to check their COVID status without having to access the health care system,” the Department of Health (DOH) said in a news release.
COVID-19 remains active on the North Olympic Peninsula, where three men in their 70s died from the disease this month.
All three had been vaccinated but had not received the latest booster and had underlying medical conditions, according to Dr. Allison Berry, Health Officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.
The most dominant variant is still Omicron and its subvariants BA4 and BA5, which make up about 67 percent of strains currently circulating, Berry said earlier this week.
However, she added that there are two new subvariants on the horizon, BQ1 and BQ1.1, which are more successful at evading previous infections and vaccinations than previous variants, she said.
The antigen tests take 15 minutes. Users can take tests from a medical provider or testing site to verify results and status. People who test positive can report their test results to the Washington COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-525-0127.
Testing when you feel ill or before joining a gathering is an important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, along with keeping up with vaccines, wearing a well-fitting mask in crowded or poorly ventilated indoor spaces, washing hands frequently and staying in when sick, DOH said.
Also, users can enable WA notifications on their phones, which allows anonymous notifications to be received or sent if the user has been in contact with someone who has tested positive.
These precautions are especially important now that hospitals and emergency rooms are operating at a higher than usual capacity due to a rise in respiratory viruses.
In addition to COVID-19 on the peninsula, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have taken hold, health officials said.
DOH first launched the program in January 2022 in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Care Evolution, Amazon and other community partners. Since then, DOH has received over 2.5 million orders and distributed 12.5 million test kits in Washington.
For more information, visit the state DOH website at https://doh.wa.gov/emergencies/covid-19.