The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is offering 6 million COVID-19 tests to people around the state for free, and test kits are expected to roll out in the coming weeks.
The OHA placed an order Wednesday with iHealth Labs for 6 million of its COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test kits. Each kit contains two tests – amounting to a total of 12 million tests coming to the state – that can be performed at home, with results available in 15 minutes.
According to the OHA, the kits will be distributed throughout January and will begin arriving next week at the agency’s warehouse in Wilsonville, where they will be distributed to numerous partner agencies and organizations.
The move to order more testing kits comes after the Omicron variant was detected in Oregon. Current studies indicate Omicron is more transmissible, but potentially less deadly than the Delta variant.
“As cases rise in Oregon and across the nation due to the Omicron variant, we are applying the lessons we have learned to support our hospitals and health care workers, and arm Oregonians with the information and tools they need to keep themselves and their families safe,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said. “Through vaccination, wearing masks, and utilizing widespread testing, we can make it through this latest surge the same way we have before – working together to protect each other.”
As cases increase, the OHA said rapid testing will be critical to efforts to encourage people to take steps that reduce transmission, including isolating and quarantining at home, wearing masks and face coverings, keeping their distance from others and getting vaccinated as soon as they’re healthy.
OHA said the agency will prioritize distribution to the following partners:
- Local public health authorities and Tribes, based on population size and some health equity metrics.
- Migrant and seasonal farm and agriculture workers.
- Head Start and some other high-risk early learning settings.
- K-12 schools to support at-home test to stay.
- Health care workers.