Today, the City of St. Louis Department of Health announced that it will distribute 25,000 antigen test kits and more than 53,000 N95 masks to vulnerable populations and City employees. These at-risk populations include teachers, unhoused residents, the elderly, those living in pharmacy deserts, 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 last week 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, Director of Health for the City of St. Louis. “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 to screen for COVID-19 outside a medical setting. Antigen tests can lift some of the COVID-19 testing demand away from our hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers. The Department of Health is strongly encouraging individuals to sign up for free COVID-19 test kits from the federal government. A maximum of four test kits per household can be ordered regardless of the size of the household and the kits will be shipped directly to that household. Sign up at COVIDtests.gov. 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 for the general public when indoors in public places and outdoors in crowded areas or when in close contact with unvaccinated individuals. The CDC recommends wearing the most protective mask possible and has said that N95 masks offer the most protection.