New program offers free home COVID-19 test kits to highest-risk residents
Louisville remains in the red zone for its COVID-19 average daily incidence rate, which means the disease continues to spread at a high rate.
With 49 cases per 100,000 residents last week, the number is down compared to previous weeks but remains at almost double the threshold to be considered in the red.
Vaccination rates and where most new cases are appearing are not equally spread throughout the city. In response, city officials announced a new program Tuesday called “Say Yes! COVID Test.”
“‘Say Yes! COVID Test’ will provide households with access to free, rapid COVID-19 tests they can self administer,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer at a press conference.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health provided the testing kits. Louisville is one of eight cities chosen by the agencies for the ‘Say Yes! COVID Test’ program.
“We were identified based on our very high local infection rates and the public availability of accurate COVID-19 testing and tracking data and for having the local public health infrastructure to support the project,” said Connie Mendel, the assistant director for the Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness.
Residents in 16 ZIP codes — 40118, 40202, 40203, 40208, 40210, 40211, 40212, 40213, 40214, 40215, 40216, 40218, 40219, 40229, 40258, 40272 — are eligible for the free testing kits. That means residents of Russell, Fairdale, Park Hill and other neighborhoods concentrated along the west and south sides of the city can request the home test kits.
“We’ve selected these ZIP codes for a very clear reason, they’re the places with the highest risk of lives lost to the virus,” said Fischer said. “They are also communities where we have focused energy on making sure vaccines were available and we will continue that focus.”
Each household will be able to access four COVID testing kits, and each kit contains two tests.
Mendel said the kits come with instructions and a step-by-step video.
She said that the test is done with a nasal swab. Recipients swab both nostrils, place the swabs in a liquid solution, place a testing strip into the solution with the swab and should receive their results within 10 minutes.
Users aren’t required to report results to the city, but there is a rewards program through which people can earn gift cards for reporting their results to the ‘Say Yes! COVID Test’ digital assistant on the web or a dedicated smartphone app.
Mendel said testing kits will be available for about five weeks or until supplies run out.