U.S., Oregon services offer free COVID testing kits & masks


New hotline available to report positive tests

Jan. 22, 2022 — The federal government and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have announced plans for services, most of which are free to any American, to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

On Jan. 12, OHA announced a new service that will allow people to report positive tests and get info on isolation and quarantine. This decision indicates a move by the OHA to go to an opt-in model for investigating COVID-19 cases.

People using the new Positive COVID Test website (govstatus.egov.com/or-oha-covid-19-positive-test) and COVID-19 Case Support Hotline, 866-917-8881, can complete an online survey linked from the web portal to report their positive case, or get help completing the survey through the hotline. They can also get information on isolation and other ways to keep themselves and those around them safe while they recover.

The launch of the services follows an OHA decision to revise its guidelines for investigating COVID-19 cases to focus less on interviewing individual cases and conducting contact tracing, and more on outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as those in congregate care, health care, K-12 education and food chain industries.

OHA does not require individuals to report their at-home test results, but it highly recommends people do so, and let their close contacts know they may have been exposed so they can take steps to limit exposure to others. Hospitals, health care providers, laboratories and local public health authorities are required to report test results.

The COVID-19 Case Support Hotline, 866-917-8881, will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 

Hotline staff will also be able to triage calls that might normally go to local public health authorities, forwarding them only if they require local follow-up.

On Jan. 18, the federal government announced plans to send free at-home testing kits to any household in America. Each household can order up to four and have them sent directly to their household. Ordering information is here: https://special.usps.com/testkits. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed this week that the website is up and running. People can call 800-232-0233 if they are unable to access the website or "need additional support placing an order" for free tests.

Also, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommending the highly protective N95 mask to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the federal government announced plans to provide 400 million N95 to pharmacies and community health centers in the coming weeks. 

The masks are expected to be available next week, and the program will be fully up and running by early February, according to a White House official. 

The CDC recommends everyone 2 years of age or older wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. 

In August 2021, in response to the rapid spread of the delta variant, a temporary rule was put in effect in Oregon requiring use of masks in all indoor settings with few exceptions.

More information can be found www.hhs.gov, www.oregon.gov/oha and www.usa.gov/coronavirus.

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