coronavirus in nyc

NYC Debuts At-Home COVID Test Kits as Part of Care Packages — Here's How They Work

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What to Know

  • New Yorkers who have been notified by contact tracers that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, have started receiving free at-home coronavirus test kits, a new tool particularly important ahead of the upcoming holidays.
  • The city of New York has said the latest effort is part of its overall goal to manage, and ultimately halt, the spread of COVID-19, including among those in the same household.
  • The kits will be tested Monday through Thursday and results will be known within 48 hours.

New Yorkers who have been notified by contact tracers that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, have started receiving free at-home coronavirus test kits, a new tool particularly important ahead of the upcoming holidays.

The city of New York has said the latest effort is part of its overall goal to manage, and ultimately halt, the spread of COVID-19, including among those in the same household.

"Once you complete your interview -- your first phone call with a contact tracer -- we’re going to ship you our take care package," Dr. Amanda Johnson of Health + Hospitals and the city's Test and Trace Corps said during Mayor Bill de Blasio's daily coronavirus briefing Thursday. "It includes personal protective equipment. It includes monitoring equipment such as thermometers. And, if you are a COVID positive case, it includes a pulse oximeter which is critically important for managing and watching your trajectory during your infection. It also includes cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and very recently, we’ve started to include an at-home testing kit."

The at-home testing kit includes various items inside to assist New Yorkers with the process of testing themselves at home. On Thursday, Johnson outlined the process. She said the first thing one must do is create an account online using the gift and activation codes provided inside the box. Once that is done, open the plastic vail and stand it up straight, making sure not to spill the solution that is found inside. Then, one must take the swab included and put it inside each nostril.

"You are going to put it inside each nostril. Swirl it around 4 times, and then take that same swab, put it in the other nostril, swirl it around 4 times. It should not be uncomfortable. Do not insert it more than an inch into your nostril," Johnson instructed.

After collecting the specimen using the swab, insert it -- head first -- into the tube with the solution, snap the stem at the indicated spot and recap the tube -- making sure it is "tight and not leaking," Johnson said. Once, that is done, place the tube inside the provided biohazard bag, sealing the bag and then placing it back inside the at-home test kit package. Seal the box with the sticker provided and place the box in the prepaid mailing bag.

Once all that is done, "you are going to call the number that is included in the instructions in your take care packet so that someone can pick it up for you and deliver it that same day," Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the kits will be tested Monday through Thursday and results will be known within 48 hours.

"Regardless of the result of the test, it’s critically important that you stay in touch with your monitor. Your contact tracer is the only person who is going to be able to say to you when it's safe to exit isolation or quarantine," Johnson said. "And, regardless of whether you tested, if you have symptom, if you’ve been in close contact with someone whose tested positive for covid 19 or has had symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, don’t wait. Separate. The Take Care program is here to help you do what you need to prevent the spread of transmission of COVID-19 to the people you care about or the people that you work with."

De Blasio shared the same sentiments saying the city will not leave New Yorkers alone during this health crisis, but rather "will engage them even more."

Although de Blasio has urged New Yorkers not to travel during the upcoming holidays, he said that the new at-home testing kits are "crucial" to stopping potential infections.

Meanwhile, Johnson said the results of the at-home tests will assist, not only New Yorkers, but health officials in the fight against the virus.

"When you know your status, you're going to take the right steps to protect your household and your workplace and you're going to reach out to us for help. And when you test, we have information that we need to continue fighting the virus, to continue identifying where it’s spreading so we can break the chains of transmission," she said.

Officials also remind New Yorkers that if they need to quarantine separate from their family to reduce spread, the city has a program in place where individuals can quarantine at local hotels free of charge.

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