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Free, rapid, home Covid tests offered in Okanogan, Lincoln counties

A new, free, home COVID testing program in several counties is intended to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and test the idea that it can.

The Say Yes! COVID Test At-Home Testing Challenge provides households with access to free, rapid COVID-19 test kits that they can self-administer and are now available in Okanogan County.

The program encourages residents to use the tests to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep the community healthy. Okanogan County residents can order testing kits online for free home delivery. Limited test kits will also be available for pick up from Okanogan County Public Health.

"Children, adolescents, and adults who are not yet fully vaccinated or at high risk need more accessible tools to inform their choices. Free, rapid, self-administered testing will give community members one more way to help reduce the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Jim Wallace, health officer for Okanogan County. "Anyone can just swab the front of their nose and perform this test in the privacy of their home and have results within 10 minutes."

The test initiative is a cooperative effort from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), community partners, test manufacturer Quidel, and healthcare technology company CareEvolution. State and local health departments help connect the initiative to local community members. Researchers at NIH- supported academic health centers will work with CDC and NIH to use publicly available data to determine if the local testing efforts slowed the spread of COVID-19.

Rapid, self-administered testing has potential to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 that occurs when people are infected, but don't yet have symptoms. Testing on a routine basis offers the best chance of identifying COVID-19 infection and isolating early, public health experts say.

The COVID-19 tests are authorized for use by the FDA, provided free of charge, and the entire testing process can be managed privately at home. Tests require a quick swab inside each nostril, and results can be read in just 10 minutes. A free, private, and easy-to-use mobile application is available to help individuals in every step of test taking. The maker of the tests, Quidel, is the same company that made the first rapid flu tests used by doctors' offices in the United States.

Individuals who have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine or who have the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19, such as people working or going to school outside the home, are ideal candidates for participation, but anyone over the age of 2 is welcome to participate. The testing challenge lasts for at least a month, or until all tests are used. Test users who choose to use the companion digital assistant to record and share their test results and complete a survey can earn up to $35 in gift cards.

Okanogan County residents can visit the website to order test kits for doorstep delivery. Test kits soon will also be available for pickup at

Okanogan County Public Health, 1234 Second Ave South, Okanogan, currently open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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