Orange County starts providing free at-home COVID-19 testing kits

Orange County began distributing at-home COVID-19 test kits this week.

The tests are saliva-based with no need for more invasive swabs.

The at-home PCR tests are already in high demand in Orange County.

"We passed out over 300 test kits," said Izabella Sahakian, operations manager with Families Together of Orange County. "We got a very big demand for testing yesterday. We were extremely overwhelmed."

Families Together of Orange County is one of five clinics chosen to roll out the saliva collection kit from Ambry Genetics.

The Orange County Health Care Agency is allowing access the first week of the program to just communities hit hardest by the virus in Anaheim and Santa Ana. After that it will be open to all Orange County residents.

To get the free kits, people can register on the OCHCA website to have them mailed to their homes within two days, or can pick them up in person.

Sahakian estimates at least 500 of these tests have gone out of her clinic since Monday.

Instructions come in multiple languages. Once the saliva is provided, the lid is placed on and the labels are attached, the tube goes into a lab specimen bag to be mailed out in a postage-paid envelope.

The company behind the kits claims when the saliva sample is collected correctly, the test is estimated to be nearly 100% accurate in detecting COVID-19.

Local leaders say OC is the first county in the nation to make these at-home saliva PCR tests available to the public.
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