The Burlington County Department of Health announced the immediate resumption of the County’s COVID-19 home testing program.
“Though the first doses of vaccines are becoming available for health care workers, it will be months before the general public begins getting vaccinated, so testing will continue to be among our most critical tools to slowing the spread of the virus. We must continue to do everything possible to provide easy access for those who live and work here,” said Dr. Herb Conaway, director of the County Department of Health. “Bringing back home testing provides another convenient way for our residents to protect themselves and their family. With the holidays fast approaching, we knew it was important to get this program running again and working properly.”
The home test is available to all Burlington County residents and nonresidents who work in Burlington County or attend schools here. Tests are saliva-based and administered by Vault Medical Services of New Jersey. Results typically come back within two days.
Burlington County was one of the first counties in New Jersey to offer COVID-19 testing to its residents in March when the Department of Health first launched its testing program, and it was only the second county in the state to offer home testing when it started working with Vault this fall.
Under the program, eligible residents can use an online portal (www.homecovidtest.org) to request a home test kit code that can be used to have a County-funded test kit sent directly to their home address through Vault’s mail-order system. The kits are shipped overnight with instructions on how to schedule a Zoom tele-health meeting with a certified health care worker to virtually oversee and instruct on how to properly collect a saliva sample for shipment to Vault and the Rutgers Lab for testing.
The program was briefly suspended late last month due to large numbers of people receiving costly test kit codes and not using them. Many others have received kits and have yet to use them. Both situations raise the prospect of waste that must be avoided if the program is to continue. Residents are advised to use the home test kits when ordered.
During the suspension, officials from the Department of Health and Vault Health undertook a review of the program aimed at mitigating waste and recouping county government expenses. That process is now completed.
Moving forward, individuals will have 72 hours to redeem home test kit code before the code is deactivated.
Individuals with health insurance must also submit that insurance information when seeking a test kit. Under federal law, all forms of public and private insurance must cover COVID-19 tests with no out-of-pocket costs to the insured person.
Lack of insurance will also not prevent anyone from using at-home COVID-19 testing.
Dr. Conaway said these changes will make sure the home testing program runs as intended and that resources are used properly to ensure testing remains accessible to all who need or want it.
“Home testing is a convenient and safe way for homebound residents and those who are unable to travel to our fixed test site or mobile sites to get tested,” Conaway said. “It’s a great resource, especially for a county as large as ours, so we’re pleased to relaunch it with these changes in place.”