CITY HALL – The city’s health department plans to distribute 25,000 antigen test kits for COVID-19 and more than 53,000 N95 masks to especially vulnerable residents and city employees. These include teachers, homeless people, the elderly, people who can’t get to a pharmacy, and others who may not have access to telephone or internet services to access federal programs.
The announcement comes on the heels of the department’s expansion of its vaccination gift card program to include second dose shots and boosters for those getting vaccinated at DOH-sponsored events and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).
“St. Louis is seeing our case positivity rate decreasing, and while that is reassuring, we are still taking steps to protect those who face the most risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” said Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, the city’s health director. “We know certain populations face more risk of exposure and illness than others, so we are taking an equity-driven approach to getting these resources to those who lack the means to do so.”
Antigen tests offer an easy and quick way for people to screen themselves at home for COVID, making the process more convenient and easing some of the demand at hospitals and health centers.
Health department officials strongly encourage people to sign up for free COVID-19 test kits from the federal government. As many as four kits per household can be ordered at COVIDtests.gov; they’ll be shipped right to the home address.
Also, a list of regional COVID-19 testing locations set up by the state, city and trusted partners can be found on the city’s website.
The Department of Health joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recommending masks when indoors in public places and outdoors in crowded areas or when in close contact with people who may be unvaccinated. The CDC has said that N95 masks offer the most protection.