Wasilla, Alaska – The Mat-Su Health Foundation (MSHF) purchased 26,000 in-home rapid CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Tests and partnered with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (MSB) for free distribution of the tests throughout the Mat-Su. With reported case counts in the Mat-Su remaining high, individuals knowing whether they have COVID-19 is key in mitigating the spread of the illness.

“Removing barriers for Mat-Su residents to get tested for COVID-19 is another step toward meeting the immediate health needs in our community,” said MSHF President and CEO Elizabeth Ripley. “While testing has been widely available, it is not always convenient or cost-effective for people to go to a testing site. This program is designed to bring an important tool to anyone who needs it so they can make the decisions that are best for themselves and their families. In addition, one barrier to testing is concern about privacy. Home test kits provide an option that is completely anonymous, free and accessible no matter where you are located in the Mat-Su.”

MSB Emergency Manager Casey Cook said, “Our hope is that by making at-home COVID-19 test kits accessible and readily available for residents, we can increase the opportunity for every resident to do their part in mitigating the impact of the ongoing pandemic.”

Home test kits are considered safe and reliable to use, but they do have higher rate of false negative results than other tests. Therefore, users who test negative are advised to do a second test three days after the first or seek a molecular/PCR test from a medical provider to confirm negative results, especially if they have symptoms. Each kit includes two tests to make this possible. A person who tests positive should self-isolate and seek follow-up care with a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

The MSB took possession of the test kits Monday, November 8, and immediately began managing distribution to more than 20 locations throughout the borough including many libraries, healthcare providers and social services agencies. A list of the locations and pickup instructions will be released once dissemination is complete and each site has finalized its distribution plan.

Local resource center Connect Mat-Su, operated by the MSHF, supports a COVID-19 Info Line at 907-373-2628 extension 2. Operators associated with the Alaska Primary Care Association and specially trained by Mat-Su Public Health are available to provide assistance Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to answering questions about the home test kits, they can also help with out-of-home test options, vaccination, and other COVID-related information.

The MSHF used funding from a federal CDC grant awarded to the MSB and the cities of Houston, Palmer and Wasilla and managed by the foundation to purchase the test kits.