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King County buys 300,000 at-home COVID-19 tests as high demand persists

King County Executive Dow Constantine said at-home COVID-19 tests will be distributed to community partners in areas with low access to in-person testing.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — High demand for COVID-19 testing continues in Washington over concerns about the omicron variant and potential exposure during holiday gatherings.

"People are concerned about whether they've become infected and we are seeing infection spreading faster than in the past [with omicron]," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "So, we're ordering hundreds of thousands of tests."

King County has purchased 300,000 at-home COVID-19 tests and expected 100,000 to arrive in the next couple of weeks. The tests will be distributed to local agencies that can get them to people in neighborhoods that do not have substantial access to in-person testing.

The county said more information on the locations where tests will be distributed will be released as they arrive.

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"They will be distributed first through our community partners," said Constantine. "We're really looking to get them into communities that have the least access to on-site testing, for example. But, ultimately, we'll be able to get them out to folks through public health, through community agencies, and my hope is that by the time we talk again in a couple of weeks, those tests will be flowing out in abundance."

Overall, at-home tests are still hard to come by. KING 5 tried to purchase them at a variety of local pharmacies and came up short. The tight market is also something King County faced when trying to purchase more than the 300,000 tests they acquired.

"We have 300,000 tests we've ordered, we are working, really competing on the market, to acquire hundreds of thousands more, and I'm confident we'll have lots of tests for those who need them," explained Constantine.

In addition to purchasing tests, King County also bought and will be giving out face coverings.

"We're distributing another 1.6 million high-quality masks," said Constantine. "We're really eager for folks to observe all the public health protocols, to realize this is a more infectious variant and just to be careful and we'll get through this together."

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