SEATTLE — UPDATE 01/21: The Washington state portal to order free at-home COVID-19 tests through the state has launched. Find more information here.
ORIGINAL: Washingtonians can expect more ways to access free at-home COVID-19 tests with a new portal run by the Washington Department of Health (DOH), which is expected to launch in the coming days.
The news was announced during the DOH’s Wednesday briefing, a day after the federal portal launched, allowing every American household to order up to four free at-home tests.
“At the state level, we are launching a portal where people can also order a rapid at-home antigen test kit for their family,” said the DOH’s Deputy Secretary for COVID Response Lacy Fehrenbach. “Within a few days, people across the state of Washington will be able to order these tests, and shipping will be free of charge.”
The state’s portal will allow one testing kit per household, and each kit will provide four to five tests, according to Fehrenbach. Kits are expected to be delivered to residents' households within one to two weeks of placing the order.
There was no definitive date on when the portal would launch, but it is expected to come online over the weekend if not by Friday.
“We want to start this as soon as we possibly can. We also want it to be successful and a good customer experience for the people that use the site,” Fehrenbach said.
The portal is expected to be able to initially serve about 350,000 kits over its first week, which covers a little over a third of all households in the state. When the state is temporarily low on stock following the initial rollout of 350,000 kits, residents will not be able to order their tests.
“We ask for your patience, and we encourage you to check back if that happens. As more tests come in, we'll pick back up and take orders and get those tests out to Washingtonians across the state,” Fehrenbach said.
For those with internet or language limitations, the DOH's COVID-19 hotline will be able to process orders, as well.
The state has also set of goal of distributing 10 million masks to health care partners and schools, which was announced last week by Gov. Jay Inslee. As of Wednesday, the state has distributed about 5 million masks, comprised of more than 1.7 million N95 masks, over 1.7 million KN95 and at least 2 million surgical masks.
The efforts all come in the midst of what Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah called the state’s “sixth wave of COVID-19” with the onslaught of the omicron variant.
“This has been one of the most concerning waves not only because of the increases and levels of transmission that we're seeing across communities across Washington but also because of the level of admissions that we are having in our hospital system,” Shah said.
The federal COVID-19 test portal launched officially on Wednesday, though White House officials said the site had a “beta” launch on Tuesday. The program will ship tests through the U.S. Postal Service typically within seven to 12 days.
Additionally, insurance providers are required to cover the cost of eight at-home tests per individual.