Coronavirus

CHARLESTON — West Virginians can now order an at-home COVID-19 test.

The saliva test will be free of charge, Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday during his pandemic briefing.

“We have partnered to bring this mailed to your home,” he said of the partnership with Vault Health.

After the sample is collected it is mailed to the company for analysis.

Bill Crouch, Department of Health and Human Resources (DDHR) Secretary, said the state’s Health Command team learned about the test about two weeks ago and started the ball rolling.

“We jumped on this very quickly,” he said.

The test can be ordered online at coronavirus. wv.gov.

“This is a PCR test, the gold standard, so it is accurate,” Crouch said, adding that any West Virginia resident can order one.

The availability of supplies has yet to be determined.

“We will monitor the rollout to see how it goes, to see the response,” he said. “At some point, we may have to cap it.”

Dr. Clay Marsh, state COVID-19 Czar, said anyone who orders the test should follow instructions, which include no eating, drinking or smoking 30 minutes before taking the swab sample inside of the mouth in order not to dilute the virus.

No timeline was given on how long it will take to receive results from the test.

National Guard Adjutant Gen. James Hoyer said the at-home test will also help free up time the NG is spending at testing sites across the state.

That it especially important as the first wave of the COVID-19 vaccine is due to arrive in less than two weeks, he added, with the NG part of the coordinated effort to distribute and to provide oversight.

“We can pivot National Guard assets” from testing to the vaccine, he said.

Hoyer said the initial waves will be first from Pfizer and then Moderna.

“We will learn more later this week, and how the rollout falls in priorities (who receives first vaccinations),” he said, referring to meetings scheduled with the CDC on the planning process as well as with government officials.

“We will have more on that next week,” he added.

Hoyer said the vaccines from both companies require two shots, one three weeks apart and the other four weeks.

A lot of oversight is needed to make sure the appropriate vaccinations are administered to everyone,to make sure the second shot is correct.

“There is a federal system to track those vaccinated,” he said, with a card given to those who have been vaccinated.

Justice did not say how many doses the state will receive in the initial wave.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline. com

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