Washington state has officially launched its website where people can order free, rapid coronavirus tests to be sent to their homes, the state Department of Health said Friday morning.
Washingtonians can order up to five tests per household at sayyescovidhometest.org, though supply will be limited at first, according to a DOH statement. The website, in English and Spanish, went live as the state continues to face high demand for tests.
“We anticipate people’s initial need in the test kits will exceed our current supply pretty quickly, but our focus is sharing what we have right now,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, the state’s deputy secretary for COVID-19 response. “We want to make sure the tests we have are in homes when our state needs testing the most — during this current surge.”
The Friday launch, funded by the state and in partnership with health care technology company CareEvolution and Amazon, is an expansion of a pilot program that has already delivered 800,000 tests in parts of Eastern Washington, the state said. The tests are approved under the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency-use authorization for those ages 2 and up.
The state expected to receive about 5.5 million more rapid tests during the most recent surge in omicron infections, Gov. Jay Inslee said at the beginning of the month. To date, DOH has distributed more than 1 million rapid tests to local health departments, schools and other community centers. About 3.5 million tests were put aside for residents to order through the new testing website.
“This is an important step toward making tests more widely available across the state,” said state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah. “As we work with our federal partners, we look forward to seeing an increase in the number of tests flowing directly into people’s homes over the next several weeks.”
Kits should arrive about one to two weeks after ordering, according to the site. In some parts of the state, residents also have the option of picking up tests locally, but the site urges people to call their local health department first to check.
The tests are secured by CareEvolution, then shipped to Amazon, which processes them and ships them directly to homes, DOH spokesperson Frank Ameduri said in an email.
The tests instruct users to take a “quick swab” inside each nostril, then wait a few minutes for rapid results. Further instructions about how to test and see results should be included in each kit.
DOH is also offering a “digital assistant” that walks users through the testing process and sends reminders.
If you have COVID symptoms, test now, DOH says. If you’ve been exposed to the virus, wait three to five days after exposure to test.
If results are positive, the digital assistant will remind you that you could be contagious and will recommend isolating, wearing a mask around others, avoiding sharing household items and washing anything you touch.
Because hospitals throughout the state are stretched to capacity, local health care experts have asked people without serious COVID symptoms to isolate and recover at home, only going to the hospital for emergencies.
If results are negative, DOH recommends you keep up safe practices and continue testing at home — “testing negative does not mean you are less likely to be infected in the future,” the state cautions.
“These COVID-19 tests, just like pregnancy and flu tests, also have a small error rate or chance of giving a false negative result,” the website says.
Personal contact information, including name, address and phone number, will not be shared outside the program, the state said. Anyone with questions about ordering or has issues with receiving the tests can contact email@example.com and include the order number provided with the test.
Some residents reported on social media Friday afternoon that they had issues using the website — including seeing ZIP codes declared ineligible and not being able to get deliveries to apartments or P.O. boxes — which the state responded to by directing residents to its COVID hotline: 800-525-0127 (then press #).
DOH spokesperson Nikki Ostergaard said no part of the state is ineligible to receive the COVID tests, and P.O. boxes are eligible as well. She noted, though, the system could have trouble with addresses not recognized by the U.S. Postal Service.
“If a user doesn’t enter the address as USPS recognizes it, it could say it is not a valid address,” Ostergaard said in an email.
Washingtonians can also get coronavirus test kits through the federal government at covidtests.gov, at local pharmacies or at a local testing site.