Thousands of at-home COVID-19 tests ordered, few returned

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – For two-weeks, New Mexicans have been able to order an at-home coronavirus test. While thousands have placed an order, few have returned the test. The state’s latest numbers show that they are administering about 10,000 in-person tests a day. Since December 22, 2020, there have been 13,419 tests ordered, and 3,141 have been taken.

“One of the reasons that some people are ordering tests and holding onto them is that they know they don’t have good access to testing and they have a plan to be with a family member or potentially at work or trying to go back to school and they want to have a test available. So, we really want people to take tests and order them when they need them. It’s really important it helps us manage the supply,” said Jason Feldman, the CEO of Vault Health.

Just before Christmas, the state announced a partnership with Vault Health, letting New Mexicans order an at-home COVID-19 test for free. Of the 3,141 tests that have already been run, about 506, or 6.2%, have been positive.

The Department of Health says some of those remaining 10,000 ordered tests could still be en route from Vault Health to the person who ordered it, however, that’s still a lot of tests likely sitting inside homes. “We really want people to use tests when we order them so that they know they can get back to school or to work or back to play if they’re playing sports even. We just want to make sure that you know your status,” said Feldman.

While Feldman says these tests don’t expire and will be accurate well into 2022, the state too urging people to take those tests as soon as they get them and send them back quickly. “One of the reasons why it’s very important to take the test and return it quickly is that your status can change. You are only as knowledgeable as the speed at which that test is delivered. When you spit in that tube, that is the moment we are going to test you. If you are just getting sick, we will know in a couple of days whether or not you are taking on a virus. If you take a test and then go out and have contact with somebody who is sick and that’s when you get sick, you won’t get the right answer,” said Feldman.

New Mexicans who have already taken the test, like Christopher Stewart of Hobbs, who takes care of his 90-year-old grandmother, say it’s fast and easy. “You’d rather be safe than sorry. You’re at your own home. When you get on your virtual call with your provider, it’s nothing invasive, she just shows you how to do the test, show you how to pack up the test, and all you do, I dropped mine off at UPS a little while ago. Simple as that,” said Stewart.

Stewart says it can be hard to get a COVID-19 test in his area and was excited to take advantage of the partnership once it was announced. “One time, I drove to Texas to get a rapid test done and I got that back in 15 minutes, which came back negative as well, but then this program rolled out, had another contact with a family member so I was like let’s try it this way,” said Stewart.

Stewart says the whole test took about 15 minutes. In order to use the at-home test, you need access to Zoom, so a provider can walk you through the test. You’ll also need to drop it off at UPS within 24-hours of taking it, to ensure the most accurate results. Feldman says results are generally being returned within 24-hours.

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