Health district distributes free COVID-19 test kits

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 7:30 PM EST
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Cars snaked through the parking lot of the Salem Civic Center Thursday morning, lining up for a drive-thru distribution of free COVID-19 at-home test kits.

The Roanoke City & Alleghany Health District handed out more than 300.

“We got a limited supply of test kits and they are highly in demand right now, so we wanted to get them out the door as quickly as possible,” said Christie Wills with the health district. “So we learned about the kits’ arrival yesterday, and we got them out the door today.”

Because of the high demand and short supply, the kits were reserved for people who are showing symptoms, or were recently exposed to someone with COVID.

Participants we spoke with told us they appreciated the opportunity to receive test kits that have been hard to find.

Anne Dickey lives in Roanoke.

“The ones from the library I ended up giving away to family members over the holidays who were feeling sick, so then I realized I could come and get one and test for myself and that would be fantastic,” she said.

“When we set up our testing events for the most part across the health district we set them up a month ago with staffing and resources we thought would meet the need at the time. And that was before omicron,” Wills said. “And with the arrival of omicron, testing is in high demand everywhere, so we were very pleased to get some resources to get them out to the community. We know it’s not enough.”

People continued to arrive at the civic center after all kits were handed out. Some were frustrated with the lack of an adequate supply.

The health district has scheduled testing events in January, at the Salem Civic Center on Tuesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. and at Fincastle Baptist Church on Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. The free Drive-thru PCR testing should provide results in 24 to 36 hours.

And health officials say they are optimistic the supply of test kits will begin to improve in January.

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