Missoula County residents will soon be able to receive free at-home rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits.
The Missoula County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will be receiving the test kits this week from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). Gov. Greg Gianforte announced earlier this month that the state ordered 650,000 CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Self COVID tests to distribute statewide.
OEM will start distributing the test kits on Sunday, Jan. 30, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at a drive-thru event at Fort Missoula Regional Park in the parking lot next to the baseball fields along South Avenue. Each BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self COVID tests COVID-19 test kit contains two at-home tests.
OEM will also be distributing test kits in communities throughout the County on the following days:
- Frenchtown: Sunday, Jan. 30, 10 am to 7 pm, Frenchtown Fire Station
- Clinton: Sunday, Jan. 30, 10 am to 2 pm, Clinton Fire Station
- Seeley Lake: By appointment, call 406-677-2400, Seeley Lake Fire Station
“Staff shortages and increasing hospitalizations are placing more and more stress on our healthcare system and taking that strain off them is a top priority,” OEM Director Adriane Beck said. “These tests will give people the ability to test themselves at home and catch the disease early so they can begin isolating faster and limit disease spread and hospitalizations.”
People can also order free COVID test kits from the federal government to be delivered to their homes by visiting COVIDtests.gov or calling 1-800-232-0233. Local pharmacies also sell at-home COVID tests, though supplies are often limited.
Health officials ask people to closely follow testing instructions included with the package.
Rapid antigen tests are more sensitive in people with symptoms and during the first week of symptoms. If a test is taken early in an infection, the virus may not trigger a positive result. People who initially test negative may test positive later and be contagious.
For best results, follow the directions carefully and take two tests 24 to 48 hours apart which is why the at-home COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test is available as a two-count box.
People who do test positive should immediately begin isolating from others, seek medical care if necessary, notify close contacts and report their positive result to http://missoula.co/athometest.
Health officials also ask those who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms and test negative using at-home tests to schedule a PCR test with the Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) or their healthcare provider.
Information on scheduling a test with the health department is online at missoulainfo.com.