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Washington to distribute free at-home COVID-19 tests to state residents

Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The Washington Department of Health announced Wednesday that it will provide free at-home COVID-19 tests to residents of the state on top of the ones already being dispersed by the federal government.

The department's deputy secretary for COVID response, Lacy Fehrenbach, said a new portal being run by the state will launched to allow Washington residents to request the tests. Each residence will be allowed to request one at-home kit, which contains four or five tests.

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"Home tests, in particular, are a key component of your medical kit at home and something we want you to have on hand before you need them," she said in a COVID-19 update given by the state's Department of Health. "We also want to lift the burden off our emergency departments right now so that critical care can go to people who really need it."

Fehrenbach declined to say exactly what date the website will go live, but said she expects it over the weekend, or as early as Friday.

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"We want to start this as soon as we possibly can," she said. "We also want it to be successful and a good customer experience for the people that use the site.

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The department said it expects to be able to provide the tests to about 350,000 households in the first week. If the state runs out of its supply at at any point, residents won't be able to order their free kits until new supply comes in.

The announcement comes one day after the federal government launched its website allowing all U.S. residents to order four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household. The Biden administration said it purchased 1 billion tests to distribute for free.

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Washington has reported 1.11 million confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and more than 10,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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