MANCHESTER, NH – Just like every single weekday since the NH Department of Health and Human Services started posting its dashboard with COVID-19 data back in 2020, I’ve been logging on to their website to download charts. On Monday, I noticed something different, a new color in the uniformly navy-blue menu array. It read, “Free At-Home Rapid Antigen COVID-19 Tests.” Maybe it’s been there a while, but it did not catch my eye before.
As the daughter of a man whose favorite line was, “If it’s free I’ll take three,” I clicked the button.
The “Say Yes COVID Test” site asked for my Zip Code, and then it asked for my street address. One more click and I was informed that my test kit, which will have a total of 8 tests included, was on its way.
I did all that impulsively in the spirit of investigation, with the intention of sharing this information with you, dear readers. It wasn’t until later that I looked into what this was all about, and that’s when I found out, less than 24 hours later, that the free test offer has already expired.
Sorry about that.
According to the Say Yes! website, “enabling asymptomatic people to test themselves in the privacy of their own homes may help to slow the spread of the virus.”
The program began as a pilot in North Carolina and Tennessee and expanded to Michigan, Hawaii and Georgia. I’m not sure when New Hampshire joined the program, or why it has stopped. But the stated end game is for researchers to be able to:
- Identify effective ways to promote testing and distribute test kits.
- Learn whether frequent home testing helps reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
- Find out whether at-home testing influences people’s thinking and behaviors around COVID-19 testing and prevention.
They were apparently made available to communities with high local infection rates, public availability of accurate COVID-19 tracking data, existing community relationships through the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program, and local infrastructure to support the project.
There was also more to the program, which I didn’t notice at first.
If I test myself regularly and share those results, I can earn a $35 Amazon gift card. This was strange but welcome news, as I’m about to spend money online for random gifts to make all my friends and family members love me more.
To be honest, I thought having a home test handy would just relieve me of going out into the world should I become symptomatic. But that’s not the purpose of it. Sounds like they just want me to routinely test myself and then report my results so they can decide if rapid home tests should be distributed to everyone.
So, basically, I’m doing my part for science and the greater good. And also, for a $35 Amazon gift card.