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Free COVID-19 tests now available for all US households

Jan 19, 2022, 7:53 AM
covid tests...
President Joe Biden, accompanied by FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, speaks about the government's COVID-19 response on Jan. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Americans can now order four free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests for their household through the federal government.

Order the rapid tests online here.

It’s not yet known what brand will be sent out, as KIRO 7 TV’s Lauren Donovan reports, but all brands on the market have FDA emergency use authorization. Experts say they all seem to work when it comes to detecting the omicron variant.

That said, keep in mind that schools and day cares are unlikely to accept at-home results, and still may require a negative result administrated by a medical professional.

King County COVID cases finally trending down, but ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’

There is one other caution about the rapid antigen at-home tests from a UW Medicine specialist, which is that this type of test works best if you are feeling sick with symptoms of COVID-19.

“I think it is a great thing for someone to have either to buy at the drugstore or to have a stash of these things at home, if they have them to access — if they get the sniffles, or a fever, or a cough, or short of breath — to get a really quick idea of what this could be,” said Dr. Geoff Baird in a news release from UW Medicine.

“A use that’s not so good though, however, is completely asymptomatic individuals testing themselves to see if it’s safe to go have a family reunion, or go to the theatre, or go to an event, go into close quarters,” he added.

Dr. Baird, the chair of laboratory medicine and pathology at the UW School of Medicine, also noted that an antigen rapid test does provide a “pretty reliable result.”

UW doctor: When to use a PCR versus rapid antigen test for COVID-19

For those who have been able to find COVID at-home test kits in Washington, beware of price gouging. Complaints were filed with the state Attorney General’s Office by consumers who said they saw $15 tests being sold for $50 online. If you suspect price gouging on a test kit, report it here.

The Biden administration also reportedly plans to distribute 400 million N95 masks to Americans for free starting next week.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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Free COVID-19 tests now available for all US households