Next week the State of Vermont will use a program developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to deliver 500,000 recently acquired rapid COVID-19 tests to households across the state.
The program will surge rapid tests into communities and serve as a pilot to help state officials assess a broader delivery model where residents order tests online and have them delivered to their home. This is similar to a system President Biden has said the federal government will use to make rapid tests more readily available later in the month of January, but this program is in addition to that federal effort.
“Rapid tests are an important tool, but Americans need to be able to get them easily, quickly and far more affordably. While we wait for more details on President Biden’s rapid testing initiative, we are considering ways to simplify and expand our state’s testing system,” said Governor Scott. “In the near future, we anticipate rapid tests will be readily available at every local pharmacy for lower prices. But we need to bridge the gap between where we are today and where things will be in the months ahead. That’s why we are partnering with the team at the National Institutes of Health to get these 500,000 tests into households throughout Vermont and ‘testing’ the effectiveness of this delivery model.”
Governor Scott said Vermonters should have clear expectations about the goals and capacity of this pilot project.
“While our primary objective is to get tests into the field as efficiently as possible, we are also assessing how well the system works so we can continue to improve testing options and work with President Biden’s team to make future testing programs successful,” the Governor continued. “As with every new program, there are going to be unanticipated challenges, the number of kits each household can order will be limited, it could take up to a week for them to be delivered, and we expect that they will go very, very quickly.”
The Governor also said that this pilot project does not replace, and should not be used to supplement, the Test to Stay programs in schools, pre-schools, and childcare centers.
Interim Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson said rapid, self-administered tests give community members another way to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s easy to perform these tests in the privacy of one’s home and have results within 10-15 minutes,” she said. “They are a very valuable tool and state and federal partners are working to making them more available and easier to get. As the Governor has noted, however, Vermonters need to have realistic expectations and know that we will use what we learn from this pilot project to inform future testing efforts and policies.”
About the Rapid Tests to be Provided
Rapid, self-administered testing can disrupt the spread of COVID-19 that occurs. The COVID-19 tests are authorized for use by the FDA, provided free of charge, and the entire testing process can be managed privately at home. The tests require a quick swab inside each nostril, and results can be read in just 10-15 minutes. A free, private, and easy-to-use mobile application is available to help individuals in every step of test taking and is not required to administer the test. The maker of the tests to be distributed, Quidel, is the same company that made the first rapid flu tests used by doctors’ offices in the United States.
The Say Yes! COVID Test initiative is a partnership with the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, test manufacturer Quidel, and healthcare technology company CareEvolution.
Participating Vermonters will need to provide their name and address for test kit delivery, which will not be shared. No additional personal information will be required to get a free rapid test kit.
The State will announce additional details, and how to order, next week.