MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — On Wednesday morning, Manatee County began giving away 7,500 COVID-19 test kits at six county libraries. Hundreds of people waited in line for the doors to open, and each person could get up to four tests.
But locations ran out quickly. The Palmetto Library ran out of tests in just 30 minutes.
As COVID cases and exposure surges across Florida, the county says the goal was to get tests in the hand of the people who needed them as quickly as possible.
"We got news from the Florida Department of Health that they had 7,500 of these tests. They asked us for help getting them out and we put together a plan that obviously worked really well," said Bill Logan, spokesperson for Manatee County.
Right now the county says they don’t know if they’ll get another shipment, but if they do, they’ll likely use this same model to distribute the tests.
“Manatee County is working hard to make sure all residents have access to COVID-19 tests,” said Manatee County Public Safety Director Jacob Saur. “I want to remind everyone that the best way to continue to protect yourself from COVID-19 is by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask when you’re unable to social distance.”
Some key points on using at-home tests are:
- COVID-19 self-tests — also referred to as home tests or over-the-counter (OTC) tests — are one of many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, masking, and physical distancing, that protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
- If you test positive, you should isolate and inform your healthcare provider, as well as any close contacts.
- Consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household.
- A positive self-test result means that the test detected the virus, and you are very likely to have an infection and should stay home or isolate for 10 days, wear a mask if you could have contact with others, and avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading disease to someone else.
- A negative self-test result means that the test did not detect the virus and you may not have an infection, but it does not rule out infection. Repeating the test within a few days, with at least 24 hours between tests, will increase the confidence that you are not infected.