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Local Public Health Expert Weighs in on New Federal COVID-19 Test Program

On Jan. 19 Covidtest.gov will begin accepting orders for at-home Covid-19 tests.

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The website which was announced on Jan.14 will be the place where Americans can request free at-home COVID-19 tests.

“I know from experience that it’s difficult to ramp us testing quickly, it takes a lot of infrastructure it takes a lot of personnel when you are trying to respond to a surge that can be very difficult,” San Diego State University Professor Dr. Corrine McDaniels-Davidson said.

The program will allow four free tests per home which are expected to ship within seven to 12 days of ordering.

The new federal program comes days after private health insurers are required to cover eight at-home COVID-19 tests per person per month.

Beginning Saturday, private insurers must cover the cost of up to eight at-home Covid-19 tests per month, the Biden administration announced Tuesday. NBC 7's Jackie Crea reports.

Some public health experts believe it is a necessary step, but more is needed.

“I think it's a necessary step. I don't think it's a game changer. I think a game changer would be free available masks in every pharmacy and grocery store, along with free and available tests in every grocery store. It would be a website to report those tests so that you know what to do next,” Dr. McDaniels-Davidson said.  

Public health experts believe a multilayered approach is needed.

The rollout of the latest program comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant.

“We often talk about what's called a swiss cheese model where one slice of swiss cheese is not good enough to stop Covid from going through. But if you line up enough layers of swiss cheese free and available test masks and good guidance about good masks and how to get them. And even if they are available for free, if you have regular testing, if you have ventilation, if you have all of these public health measures in place now, you've got strategies, those holes aren't going to line up,” Dr. McDaniels-Davidson said.

The Biden Administration said the four test limit will apply to each residential address for the first block of 500 million tests.

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