Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Free COVID saliva test, Door Dash at your doorstep. What not to like?

With kids back in school, testing mandated at some workplaces and the Delta version pushing cases higher, Minnesota is seeing some of the highest demands for coronavirus testing since the pandemic began.

Store shelves are swiftly cleared of tests, and social media is a Twitter with questions about the most convenient ways to see if a snooze or a headache is COVID-19: whether mass testing like the St. Long lines at landmarks? (Generally not.) Is anyone else having trouble prescribing tests through their doctor or pharmacy? (Sometimes.) How convenient and valuable are for-profit companies that offer testing? (It varies.)

Yet there is a free trial program that will deliver a sputum test (no irritating nasal swab) to your home anywhere in Minnesota and then email you in a time frame comparable to these others.

This is the state’s at-home saliva testing program, run through the Minnesota Department of Health, Vault Medical Services, and local laboratories. This is similar to at-home testing programs undertaken by dozens of other states, including Wisconsin last year, when the nation began to exit a testing shortage that plagued the pandemic’s early months.

The Department of Health estimates the program will cost at least $14 million by the end of 2021, all paid for by federal funds, with the ability to pay additional expenses for health insurance companies. There are no co-payments or upfront costs or billing costs of any kind from the test takers, and you can take as many as you want.

My family has been doing these tests, usually every week or so, since our son returned to school in person last year, and we’ve found them to be the most convenient way to test. And my baby has become a champion in accumulating saliva.

All you need is an email address and some kind of computer device with Zoom video capabilities.

Yet the vast majority of Minnesotans do not get themselves tested in this way.

As of September 20, only a little over 2 percent of Minnesota’s COVID-19 tests reported by laboratories were through the free at-home testing program.

Here’s how it works:

Quick Delivery & Pro Tips

Once you’ve set up an account on VaultHealth.com, you can order an online test by answering a few questions. (Pro tip: If entering all your insurance information becomes annoying, just say you don’t have your card to go fast.)

Pioneer Press Reporter Dave Orrick Spits Into A Tube For Coronavirus Testing While Andrea Davis, A Physician Assistant At Walt Medical Services, Supervises Via Zoom Videoconferencing In This Computer Screenshot From Orrick’S Computer On Friday, October 1, 2021 We Do.

It gets delivered to your doorstep by door dash. Technically this can take up to 24 hours, but I’ve found that if you order your tests on the morning of a weekday, you’ll receive it that day, sometimes before noon. The test kit is a plastic tube with a small spit funnel and a few other items.

Then you choose a time when you will neither eat nor drink for half an hour. (The pieces of food and their after-effects make saliva too sticky for the lab testing process.)

Pro Tip: Now’s the time to get your saliva flowing. Frying bacon works best for me, but smelling vinegar, or any food aromas—or even just thinking of something savory—can work.

Next, go to your Vault account and click “Meet a Provider”. This starts a Zoom video chat session with a Vault contractor, who is either a registered nurse, a nurse practitioner, a physician assistant or a medical assistant. You’ll usually have to wait about five minutes for one of these people to be free. I have found that the wait can vary from zero which takes 20 minutes. It’s a good idea to have something useful to keep you busy.

dry mouth panic

When the test supervisor arrives, you answer a few questions – perhaps able to keep a pool of saliva while talking. Then they ask you to spit into the tube, usually while they watch.

Yes, awkward, silly and, for novices, surprisingly high pressure. For the first time, suddenly my mouth got dry.

“The more you do it, the better you get,” said Kandace Grunke, a registered nurse who lives in the West Metro and has been on the Vault side of a Zoom call. Grounke now works as regional clinical manager for Vault, which has approximately 650 nationwide sputum supervisors.

World Nation News Desk
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