- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Federal health officials are setting up COVID-19 self-testing sites to residents in two states. 

The “Say Yes! COVID Test” initiative, launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, has started in Pitt County, North Carolina and will be coming soon to Chattanooga/Hamilton County, Tennessee. 

Under this initiative, as many as 160,000 residents in the two communities will have access to free, rapid antigen tests that they can self-administer three times a week for a month. 

The NIH will provide the at-home tests and study the effectiveness of the initiative in reducing community transmission of COVID-19. 

“Reliable and widely available testing is a critical part of our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Regular screening with at-home COVID-19 tests can strengthen our prevention efforts,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky in a statement Wednesday. “Combined with efforts to increase vaccinations, this important initiative will help us understand how best to utilize these new at-home tests to reduce viral transmission rates in communities.”

Participants of the initiative can also opt to volunteer in a study that collects more data through surveys designed to assess whether frequent self-administered testing influences behavior, knowledge on preventing viral spread and thoughts about COVID-19 vaccination. 

The self-testing sites will use the QuickVue test, made by San Diego-based company Quidel. The Food and Drug Administration granted the test emergency use approval for at-home use with a prescription at the beginning of March. The test uses a nasal swab to detect the coronavirus within 10 minutes. 

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