New rapid COVID-19 tests being distributed by state health department

The first distribution of 149,000 kits will increase access to diagnostic testing

The Washington State Department of Health has begun to distribute the first batch of the Abbot BinaxNOW antigen test kits for COVID-19 from the federal government.

These are rapid tests that can return results in as little as 15 minutes, department spokesman Frank Ameduri said.

The first batch will include 149,000 kits. Ameduri said the state anticipates receiving nearly 2.3 million tests through December.

The rapid tests work best for people with COVID-19 symptoms. The first batch will be distributed to community health centers, tribal clinics and critical access hospitals to increase access to COVID-19 testing in the communities they serve across the state. The spokesman said a distribution plan for future shipments is being developed.

“Interpreting the results of antigen tests can be complex,” said Dr. Charissa Fotinos, the state’s testing leader and deputy director of HCA. “Based on what we know now, the state is deploying the first shipment of BinaxNOW tests for use in symptomatic people and possibly those exposed to confirmed cases.”

The first distribution of 149,000 kits, along with the benefit of rapid results, will increase access to diagnostic testing for Washingtonians, and particularly for priority populations. That will help individuals with symptoms get quicker results and assist in tracking the virus and stopping additional transmission and illness, Fotinos said.