OLYMPIA — As the Washington National Guard arrived Friday in Everett to help hospital workers, the state also launched an online portal for Washingtonians to get free at-home COVID tests.
Both state initiatives aim to combat the recent omicron surge that has increased demand for hospital resources and testing.
A National Guard team of about 10 will help with non-clinical tasks at Providence Regional Medical Center, freeing up staff for critical care.
Meanwhile, households can turn to the state’s sayyesCOVIDhometest.org to order five rapid tests. But hiccups are expected as demand continues to outweigh supply.
The site is part of the Department of Health’s plan to get 3.5 million rapid tests into households. So far, Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah said, the state has only acquired about 650,000 tests due to supply chain issues.
The site is expected to be restocked when the department comes into more tests next week.
In the meantime, Shah said, not everyone will be able to place an order.
“Or the site may even, due to overwhelming demand, go down sometimes,” he said. “And patience is the word.”
State health officials told reporters Friday that residents should keep at-home tests in their medicine cabinets for when they get sick, and should enable WA Notify software on their smartphones, where they can report positive results.
They also urged people not to use the new portal if they already have some at-home tests.
“If you look in your medicine cabinet and you’ve got five or 10, or you’ve got enough … or you can buy them somewhere,” Shah said, “please be kind and do that.”
A news release cited surging infections, saying people with symptoms should isolate and assume they have COVID, even if a test is not available to confirm it.
A federal government portal to get four free at-home tests is at COVIDtests.gov.