Free COVID-19 Test Kits
January 25, 2022
Order Your Free COVID-19 Tests
The U.S. government has rolled out a free COVID-19 test kit initiative focused on keeping individuals aware of their COVID-19 status. Four free tests are available to every household in the United States, with orders shipping to your door in as little as 12 days. Denver Health Chief Medical Officer Connie Price urges that it is important for everyone to have access to COVID-19 testing to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. If you are feeling symptomatic, have been exposed to COVID-19 or simply are planning a vacation and want to ensure you are negative for coronavirus, these at-home tests can give you piece of mind.
PCR vs. At-Home Testing
PCR testing and at-home rapid tests detect different parts of the COVID-19 virus. The differences between each test influences the test’s speed and relative accuracy.
According to Dr. Price, the gold standard for diagnosing COVID-19 remains the PCR test. This means, if you need the absolute highest level of accuracy available, a PCR test should be your go-to test. Dr. Price describes PCR tests as successfully detecting even the smallest amount of the coronavirus genetic material – which makes it the most precise test for diagnosing COVID-19. However, since a PCR test requires a skilled laboratory technician and special equipment to run the test, usually only large, centralized testing facilities can conduct PCR tests. A PCR generally takes about 3-5 days for results to come back.
The at-home tests also serve a very valuable purpose. At-home test kits are faster with results being nearly immediate. The immediacy of these tests can compromise accuracy of test results. However, when in a pinch, or feeling symptomatic, these tests can be completed in the comfort of your home and deliver nearly instant results.
When You Should Test
Although the COVID-19 vaccine offers excellent protection against severe illness, even vaccinated and boosted people can acquire and spread the infection. Regardless of your vaccination status, use at-home tests if you begin to have symptoms, are at least five days after coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or are gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or unvaccinated.
Denver Health patients: go into your MyChart patient account to schedule a virtual appointment with your doctor, who can determine if a test is necessary. Additional resources for testing can be found on the Colorado State Testing Page.