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DHEC urges Carolinians take advantage of free at-home COVID tests

Youngstown City Health Department worker Faith Terreri grabs two at-home COVID-19 test kits to...
Youngstown City Health Department worker Faith Terreri grabs two at-home COVID-19 test kits to be handed out during a distribution event, Dec. 30, 2021, in Youngstown, Ohio. The Biden administration on Tuesday quietly launched its website for Americans to request free at-home COVID-19 tests, a day before the site was scheduled to launch.The website, COVIDTests.gov, now includes a link for Americans to an order form run by the U.S. Postal Service where Americans can request four at-home tests per residential address.((AP Photo/David Dermer, File))
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 11:12 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Getting tested for the coronavirus without ever having to leave your home.

“Conway Medical Center - we’ve been around for 90 years serving this community,” said Dr.Paul Richardson with CMC. “It breaks our hearts when we can’t do something to help folks.”

Richardson says deciding to close the drive-thru testing the hospital has been offering throughout the pandemic wasn’t a decision they took lightly.

But when it comes down to it, with the Omicron variant pushing more and more people to get a test, CMC simply wasn’t getting enough tests to keep up with the demand.

“Everyone knows, people who’ve tried to get a test over the counter can attest,” Richardson said. “Our supply chain, unfortunately, has become quite tight.”

The White House wants to make that quest to find a test easier.

The White House launched a website Tuesday allowing every household to order four free at-home tests.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is urging people to take advantage of the new testing option. All you have to do is order them.

“We went from essentially nothing in terms of home testing at the beginning of 2021, to 375 million home tests that were available in January,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General.

One of 2021′s biggest developments in coronavirus testing was seeing nine new forms of at-home tests hit the shelves at pharmacies to be sold over the counter.

However, as of late, finding those tests has gotten a bit tricky.

“Here’s what happened,” Murthy said. “Omicron happened, and omicron turned out to be the most transmissible version of COVID-19 that we had seen by far.”

2022′s biggest development may be seeing those same tests sent straight to your door.

The federal government launched a new website at covidtests.gov, where any household can simply enter contact information and a mailing address, and the tests will be sent right to their door beginning the end of January.

“Many countries have found themselves with a shortage of tests,” said Murthy. “What we have to do, and what we’ve been doing since Omicron arrived, is to close that gap even more.”

The White House bought a million at-home tests to mail out, with the first 500 million available to order.

Richardson does have a few concerns regarding the accuracy of those tests.

“We have folks that we’ve trained to obtain samples,” said Richardson. “While I’m sure people will do their best with at-home testing, that control and reliability factor may not be there.”

While the tests may not be ideal, Richardson is optimistic it will help take some of the load off the hospital and its patients alike.

“As difficult as it is right now to get tests, we’ve got to use every source we can, so I totally understand that too. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to do home testing, but we do.”

The Surgeon General says the next package we could get in the mail from the federal government, will probably be full of masks.

“While we have increased significantly the supply of good quality masks, we now want to get masks out and available to people for free,” Murthy said.

The surgeon general says to expect an announcement about mail-in masks soon.

If you don’t have time to wait that week or two for the at-home tests in the mail, the White House also announced, as of this week, insurances will cover up to eight at-home tests per person per month.

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