300,000 Covid tests purchased by King County
information from King County
King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a purchase of 300,000 COVID-19 home testing kits for King County residents on Tuesday, with the first 100,000 kits scheduled to arrive in the next two weeks. The dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks is increasing demand for COVID testing, and the home tests will supplement existing testing capacity provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County and its partners.
"Having test results in minutes, not hours, is an important part of keeping people safe and healthy during this surge of cases. These kits will help residents make swifter and more informed decisions on how to prevent further infections, and know whether to stay home," said Executive Constantine. "We know the demand for tests has increased in recent weeks and supplies are constrained, and more help is on the way from the federal and state governments. But we can't wait. These kits will help us add capacity to our existing testing network, and help communities hardest hit by the pandemic."
The first 100,000 kits are scheduled to be delivered on the week of January 10th, with the remaining shipments following soon after. King County is working to procure additional kits, but has only been able to confirm purchase of the initial 300,000. Distribution of these testing kits will prioritize areas of the county and communities that are in the most need. Public Health is putting plans into place to get the tests to community-based organizations, community health centers, senior centers, libraries, and other congregate locations as soon as the supplies arrive. As more kits are disbursed by the federal government, King County will assess whether distribution priorities can be adjusted to factor in those additional supplies.
King County has also distributed 1.6 million high-quality masks since mid-December, and an additional 600,000 masks will be bundled with the test kits for distribution in January.
The federal government has plans to increase home testing kit supply across the country, including in King County, with the purchase of 500 million test kits announced last week by President Biden. While waiting for future disbursements, today's purchase announcement by King County is from the open market, and meant to meet the most critical needs to protect hospital capacity. Additional kits are anticipated to arrive soon, allowing pharmacies and other locations to restock for the public to purchase.
Additional details on distribution plans and how the public can access these kits will be made available closer to the arrival of the initial shipment of testing kits. Information and appointments for tests from Public Health and its partners is available on the Public Health website.