ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Free COVID testing kits were promised to households across the U.S. by the federal government back in January.
More than three weeks after the website to order the tests went live, many of us have yet to actually receive the tests.
60 million households requested tests and according to the U.S. Postal Service, tens of millions of those households have actually received them. However, that still leaves the majority of folks in the dark as to when they might be getting their tests.
Karen McCready lives in Pittsford and ordered the test kits a day before the website went live, as the postal service was accepting orders on their beta site.
“It is important that if we have any type of symptoms, to have access to be able to test ourselves, right at home, so we know whether or not we can go back out in the community,” McCready said.
Tests were expected to ship within seven to 12 days after ordering them, but now more than three weeks later, many folks still haven’t received them including McCready.
“I have to say I’m a little disappointed. I think I can understand. I know they’re probably a bit overwhelmed with everything that’s going on. But to be guaranteed that you’d be getting the test kits sent out and they haven’t been received is a bit disappointing,” McCready said.
The United States Postal Service wrote in a statement, “The Postal Service ships the tests out as quickly as we receive them. We’ve seen more than 60 million households request tests and tens of millions have received them. This is huge demand and we’re making incredible progress. We appreciate the patience of those that have not yet received their tests.”
Regardless of when the test kits get to you, Dr. Emil Lesho with Rochester Regional Health said having them on hand is becoming increasingly crucial in the ongoing pandemic.
“It’s very helpful. The quicker you get your result if you’re positive, the quicker you can take the right steps,” Dr. Lesho said. “If you’re in one of the groups that are at risk for having a bad outcome from getting COVID that is all the much quicker you can get access to the oral medications because these oral medications work best the sooner you can take them.”
With every test kit comes an expiration date, and many might wonder how much longer the test kit will be good for if it’s already delayed in the manufacturing and shipping process.
“The shelf life is generally several months to a year,” Dr. Lesho said. “The farther away you are from the expiration date, the less reliable to test. And so if all you have is an expired test kit, and it and you think you might have COVID disease, and you test it and it’s positive, then I would believe that result. But if it’s negative, I wouldn’t trust it.”
All in all, if you receive your test kit and don’t get a chance to use it before the expiration date, Dr. Lesho said not to throw it away as it can still provide some accuracy if you test positive.
The FDA is allowing some antigen tests to add three months to the expiration date.