MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is encouraging Wisconsinites to order free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests and have them delivered directly to their house through the state-supported Say Yes! COVID Test program. Starting Nov. 17, all Wisconsin households are eligible to place an order every month for one free test kit that contains five rapid antigen COVID-19 tests on the Say Yes! COVID Test website.
“With the holidays coming up, we want to give Wisconsinites the tools they need to safely celebrate with their loved ones,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “These free self-tests are delivered right to the door, allowing people to take a COVID-19 test at home and make decisions that will keep those around them safe.”
Testing helps people know if they have COVID-19 and if they need to take actions that will help limit the chance of spreading the virus to those around them by wearing a mask around others and staying home for five days as recommended by the CDC. In addition to the Say Yes! COVID Test program, Wisconsinites can access a COVID-19 test by:
● Visiting a community testing site. There are currently more than 500 community testing sites across the state, many of which offer free COVID-19 testing.
● Purchasing self-tests through pharmacies, retail outlets, or online. Self-tests are widely available at pharmacies and other retail stores across the state.
● Using health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare plans to cover the cost of purchasing additional self-tests. Private insurers and some Medicare plans continue to cover the cost of eight rapid COVID-19 tests per member each month. Members of BadgerCare Plus and most Wisconsin Medicaid programs can also receive COVID-19 tests from Medicaid-enrolled pharmacies using their ForwardHealth ID card. People are encouraged to contact their health insurance provider for more information.
● Contacting a health care provider. Your local or tribal health department, primary health care provider, or community health center can help find a test near you.
This fall, DHS reached the milestone of distributing 11 million COVID-19 tests since the start of the pandemic. This number does not include the 760,000 self-tests sent to 152,000 households through the Say Yes! COVID Test program so far. In addition, DHS continues to supply COVID-19 self-tests to local and tribal health departments, K-12 schools, and shelters for distribution to community members. Since May, these programs have made 1,064,000 self-tests available to the public.
“A priority of our COVID-19 prevention efforts continues to be working to provide all Wisconsinites with equitable access to COVID-19 testing,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge. “Ordering free tests through the Say Yes! COVID Test program is quick, easy, and helps people have the ability to take a COVID-19 test at home and know their results within minutes.”
To obtain reliable results and help stop the spread of COVID-19, it is important to know when to take a test. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should take a test immediately. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should take a COVID-19 test five days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.
If you test positive with a COVID-19 self-test, stay home for at least five days, separate yourself from others, and notify your close contacts. Contact a doctor, community health center, pharmacy, or the DHS free telehealth service to see if COVID-19 treatments may be recommended for you. Call the telehealth service number at 833-273-6330 or start the process online.
Be aware that the FDA has extended expiration dates for many COVID-19 self-tests, including the tests delivered through the Say Yes! COVID Test program. When you receive your tests, do not be concerned if the expiration date appears to have passed. Your tests are still reliable and good to use for up to an additional six months. Look up your package of test kits on the iHealth website by entering the lot number to find the specific extended expiration date.
The Say Yes! COVID Test program is funded in part through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funds.
For free, confidential support with placing an order for your household’s test package or help with finding health care and community resources near you, dial 211 or 877-947-2211. For information, resources, and data related to COVID-19 in Wisconsin, visit the COVID-19 webpage.