ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — 500 million COVID tests are now available to all Americans free of charge. The new federal website “covidtests.gov” is up and running for orders.
If you had to get tested in the past few weeks or so, you probably struggled a bit. The nation has been facing a widespread shortage throughout the latest surge, but President Biden hopes this new website can make it easier.
All you do is enter some quick information, and you get up to four rapid tests per household – all free of cost.
“It will help to some extent,” said Dr. Emil Lesho, infectious disease expert at Rochester Regional Health
Dr. Lesho says testing has become a way of life, as long as COVID-19 is here.
He says it’s important to keep in mind, tests are mostly designed for before, and during infection; not so much afterward.
So it’s better to be proactive about having them on hand, instead of scrambling to find them when you develop symptoms.
For the website, shipping could take up to 12 days.
“For that reason I think it’s a good idea to have one or two tests all ready to go in your house, so if you do develop symptoms, or have significant exposure you can test appropriately,” Dr. Lesho said.
Zach Garafalo with Center for Disability Rights in Rochester says this kind of accessibility is a great step forward.
In the past, getting your hands on a test could be extra work for some.
Finding a ride, standing in lines…
“I think, and rightfully so, there had been such an enormous push to get vaccines into the arms of people that unfortunately testing, and promoting access to testing kind of waned, so this is great,” he said.
And there are some potential concerns he has: what about those who are homeless and without a shipping address? Or those who are visually impaired?
That’s why he’s hoping for more outreach on a local level, in the near future.
“The supply chain needs to get down to individual community groups, leaders, who can then make contact with everybody who need this who might not have heard about it,” Garafalo said.
In the meantime, he’s asking anyone in the public struggling to get a hold of these tests, to contact the center. The phone number for Center for Disability Rights is (585) 546-7510. The tests are expected to ship in late January.