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Expanding Access to COVID-19 Testing Supplies

HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program
Technical Assistance Resources
Key Questions

HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program

As part of the Biden Administration's “Path Out of the Pandemic” COVID-19 Action Plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in partnership with the Department of Defense is making available to all HRSA-supported health centers (including look-alikes), as well as Medicare-certified rural health clinics, free COVID-19 at-home self-testing supplies, authorized by the FDA for emergency use. Distribution of these self-tests at no cost to health center patients and community members will help to ensure and expand community-based COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics that choose to participate in the HRSA COVID-19 testing Supply Program will be able to place orders for Quidel QuickVue® At-Home OTC COVID-19 Tests HRSA Exit Disclaimer.

For additional information on available COVID-19 screening and testing near you, visit Find A Health Center. Please call the health center nearest you for more information about the availability of low or no-cost COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

Technical Assistance Resources

Key Questions

What is the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

Consistent with the Biden Administration's “Path Out of the Pandemic,” HHS is providing free, at-home self-tests to health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics, for distribution at no cost to patients and community members. The program is intended to ensure COVID-19 tests are made available to populations and settings in need of testing, especially populations at greatest risk from adverse outcomes related to COVID-19. As of December 21, 2021, all HRSA-supported health centers (including look-alikes) and Medicare-certified rural health clinics are eligible to participate in the program after completing the onboarding process.

(Updated: 1/7/2022)

Why are health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics encouraged to participate in the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

Health centers provide primary care services to nearly 29 million people each year throughout the country, including in geographically isolated and medically underserved and vulnerable communities. Two-thirds of the population served by health centers are living in poverty, over 60% are racial and/or ethnic minorities, and nearly 1.4 million are unhoused. Additionally, approximately 4,800 Medicare-certified rural health clinics ensure primary care access and improve health outcomes for the estimated 62 million Americans who live in rural communities.

In order to ensure those most at risk to COVID-19 have access to at-home self-testing supplies, and to support greater COVID-19 mitigation efforts, all health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics are eligible to receive and distribute at-home self-tests to patients and members of their communities.

(Updated: 1/7/2022)

Are health centers required to receive testing supplies through this program?

No, this is a voluntary program. Only health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics that choose to register with HRSA and place orders through the online ordering system will receive the COVID-19 at-home self-tests and any additional testing supplies that may become available.

HRSA sent out email communications to all health centers HRSA Exit Disclaimer in December 2021 providing additional information regarding the registration and ordering process.

(Updated: 1/7/2022)

What type of at-home self-tests will be sent to health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics to distribute to patients and community members?

Currently, health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics may order the Quidel QuickVue® At-Home OTC COVID-19 Tests HRSA Exit Disclaimer through this program. These are rapid antigen tests that an individual can self-administer anywhere, with results available within 10 minutes. These tests can be used if a person is symptomatic, asymptomatic, or within 6 days of symptom onset. The tests can be self-administered and are recommended for use by individuals 14 years of age and older. For children 2-13 years of age, the COVID-19 test may be performed by an adult.

(Updated: 1/7/2022)

When will HRSA begin distributing these at-home self-testing supplies?

Health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics began submitting orders in late December 2021. Orders are placed on a weekly cadence, with shipment and delivery expected within 7-10 business days of ordering.

(Updated: 1/7/2022)

How many at-home self-tests can a health center or Medicare-certified rural health clinic order?

Health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics have the option to order self-tests in quantities of individual shippers (45 test kits per shipper). Quantities greater than 30 shippers will be packaged and shipped as a pallet.

  • Each test kit contains two tests.
  • Each shipper contains 45 test kits and weighs 22.5 lbs. (19-3/4" L x 15-1/4" W x 9-1/2" H).
  • Each pallet contains 30 shippers (1,350 test kits) and weighs approximately 675 lbs. (48"L x 40" W x 56" H).

Health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics are encouraged to consider the amount necessary to meet ongoing community needs and their capacity to receive and store the tests when placing their orders.

(Added: 12/15/2021)

Are there any special temperature requirements for storing the at-home self-tests?

Yes, health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics should store tests at room temperature (15-25°C/59-77°F), in a place away from direct sunlight.

(Added: 12/15/2021)

How are the sites selected that will receive tests?

Each health center and Medicare-certified rural health clinic determines which of its service delivery sites are to receive self-tests based on patient and community need and storage capacity. Health centers may revise the delivery sites as needed.

(Added: 1/7/2022)

Are there guidelines regarding who may receive the at-home self-tests supplied by the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

The program is intended to ensure COVID-19 at-home self-tests are made available to health center and Medicare-certified rural health clinic patients and community populations and settings in need of testing, especially populations at greatest risk from adverse outcomes related to COVID-19. Individuals from the community who request at-home self-tests should be provided them, with consideration of their individual and family risk for COVID-19 and related need. This may include health center staff, if needed. Local employers should review OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for guidance regarding their legal obligation for employee testing.

(Added: 1/7/2022)

What are some examples of populations who may receive the at-home self-tests supplied by the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

Health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics are encouraged to disseminate test kits to their communities to provide access for populations and settings in need of testing, especially populations at greatest risk from adverse outcomes related to COVID-19. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Health care for the homeless mobile clinics, street medicine teams, and field-based case management teams.
  • Agricultural worker programs in rural areas.
  • Individuals visiting nursing home patients, traveling to see elderly adults or small children, and/or who are asymptomatic with known exposure.
  • Homebound patients during home visits or as a leave-behind after a visit.
  • Essential workers, such as childcare providers, teachers, and health workers in long-term care facilities.
  • Health center sites or rural health clinic sites where there are no large pharmacies or grocery stores nearby.
  • Residents of HUD-assisted housing (see Expanding Access to COVID-19 Testing Supplies – HUD Exchange).
  • Individuals living in congregate settings, such as nursing homes, adult foster care, and college dorms.

(Added: 1/7/2022)

How many at-home self-tests can an individual receive at one time from the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

Health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics should use their best discretion in distributing at-home self-tests to the local community and follow their established protocols. Each kit includes two self-tests. An individual may request test kits for all members of their immediate household. The family members do not have to be present to receive the test kits.

(Added: 1/7/2022)

What information should health centers and Medicare-certified rural health clinics share with community members about using the at-home self-tests?

As health centers distribute the at-home self-tests, they should provide information about how and when to use the tests and what to do if a test is positive, including how the individual may contact the health center or rural health clinic for assistance. Individuals may use the self-test immediately or when appropriate at a future time (please note that tests expire after one year). For information regarding self-testing, please refer to the CDC Self-Test webpage.

(Added: 1/7/2022)

What information are health centers expected to report about their distribution of the at-home self-tests?

Health centers are asked to report the number of test kits distributed and to whom (e.g., health center patients, community members) in the biweekly HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Survey. Health centers must begin reporting this information as part of the December 30, 2021 survey. For a full list of questions in the biweekly survey, please see the COVID-19 Data Collection Tool User Guide.

Health centers are also asked to report their stock on hand in the Diagnostic Provider Order Portal (DPoP).

(Added: 1/7/2022)

Do health centers need to report positive at-home self-test results to HRSA?

Participating health centers must answer the biweekly HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Survey questions and report stock on hand in DPoP. Health centers should also follow local guidelines for public health reporting and address positive patients as per clinical protocols. HRSA recommends including any positives that you become aware of in your testing totals for the HRSA biweekly survey.

(Added: 1/7/2022)

Where should health centers direct questions about the HRSA COVID-19 Testing Supply Program?

For Systems Access Issues, including assistance with navigating DPoP:

COVID-19 Administration Reporting System (CARS) Help Desk
Email: CARS_HelpDesk@cdc.gov
Phone: 1-833-748-1979
8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday

For Product Questions, including delivery issues and product damage:

Quidel Customer Service
1-800-874-1517 (Option 2, then Option 5)
7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. PT, Monday-Friday

For Policy/Program Questions:

Health Center Program Support
Select: COVID-19 Testing Supply Distribution Program from the dropdown
Or call: 1-877-464-4772
8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday (except federal holidays)

(Added: 1/7/2022)

Date Last Reviewed:  January 2022