UW expert: ‘Really disappointed’ to see free COVID testing end for uninsured

Mar 23, 2022, 10:29 AM
A health worker waits at an empty COVID-19 testing center at the Washington State Convention Center on March 9, 2022, in Seattle, Washington. Once crowded, testing sites are mostly now devoid of patients. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The federal program that provided free COVID testing for uninsured individuals ended Tuesday after running out of money, when Congress and the White House could not agree on budget numbers.

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Dr. Ali Mokdad, chief strategy officer of epidemiology at the University of Washington, says he is very disappointed that the federal government is going to stop paying for the testing.

“Right now what we are seeing is a decline in cases, so it will not be as needed as it was before. However, this could change at any time,” he told KIRO Newsradio.

Mokdad says free testing and treatment has been very important in fighting the spread of the virus.

“When we were seeing a surge, we needed to know how many people are infected, and where, and when. It was very important to provide free testing,” he said.

“I would love to see this be continued, especially in our state, because we need to take care of people who are not able,” he added. “It’s very important for us to sustain it and keep it going on. I’m really disappointed that we are not doing so.”

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He is also concerned that combination of changing behaviors, like not wearing masks and increased mobility, mixed with waning immunity could cause the COVID-19 case numbers to jump back up.

“The federal government should be able to make funds available for that and look at it right now. We are providing funds to a lot of justified causes as well, but we need to get our priority right,” he said.

Mokdad is asking the medical community to let their representatives know that they want the funding for tests to continue.

For those in need of at-home COVID tests, the state is still offering two orders a month per household in Washington while supplies last. Each order contains five tests.

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UW expert: ‘Really disappointed’ to see free COVID testing end for uninsured