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Washington state runs out of free COVID-19 tests within day of website going live

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SEATTLE — Less than a day after the Washington State Department of Health launched a website where residents could order free, rapid coronavirus tests to be sent to their homes, those tests were out of stock.

The state said its inventory of testing kits ran out around 6 p.m. Friday.

“We expect more tests will be available soon. Please watch our social media channels for updates,” the department website said Saturday. The state does not have an exact date when tests will be restocked, blaming “national supply chain demands.” Residents can check back for test availability at sayyescovidhometest.org.

Residents in need of at-home COVID-19 tests can still order them through the federal website at CovidTests.gov or at a local pharmacy (if they’re in stock). For PCR tests, the state maintains a list of testing locations on the Department of Health website. Public Health — Seattle & King County also maintains a list.

State officials said Friday they expected the initial supply of at-home tests would run out quickly.

The state plans to order 3.5 million tests to distribute to Washington households. It has received about 650,000 at-home tests so far, said Shelby Anderson, spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Health.

With supply shortages, “it is important to note that there’s often a difference between what we’ve ordered from our suppliers and what we receive,” Anderson said. “However, it is safe to say we’re seeking to receive millions of tests and are working hard to deliver them to hundreds of thousands of households across the state.”

The tests were part of a program that already had distributed 800,000 tests in Eastern Washington, according to state officials. Distribution of tests through the site relies on Amazon, which receives the tests from the technology company CareEvolution, then processes and ships them to homes.

The federal and state websites have proved challenging for some residents living in apartment buildings, duplexes, backyard cottages and other arrangements. This week, some residents reported seeing addresses declared ineligible or getting a message on the federal website that someone from their address had already ordered tests.

When those issues arose with the federal site Tuesday, the Postal Service said they affected a “small percentage of orders” and instructed residents to contact the Postal Service help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

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