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Bucks County orders 300,000 COVID-19 rapid tests


Responding to a request from area hospitals, Bucks County recently issued a disaster emergency declaration that empowered officials to more quickly buy hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 rapid test kits.
The tests will be distributed to county residents for free, the county said.
As the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus continues to spur a dramatic increase in demand for the tests, the county hopes the new test kits will relieve some of the pressure hospital emergency rooms and pharmacies are experiencing.
The county expects the 300,000 tests to arrive in shipments of 100,000 at a time over the next three weeks, said county spokesman, James O’Malley, in an email. The first batch, he said, is expected later this week.
Distribution of the tests is being managed by the county’s emergency management and health departments, O’Malley said. Sites are being planned in upper, central and lower parts of Bucks. More information will be available when the tests arrive and the locations are ready to open, he said.

The $2.7 million cost for the rapid, at-home tests will be paid from the county’s aid from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Additionally, Bucks County bought approximately $251,000 worth of tests for use in schools and on unvaccinated county employees.
As of November, the county said, 91 percent of its workforce reported receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
The county’s human services division is working with its providers to distribute tests to at-risk populations, such as the homebound, the homeless and low income residents, O’Malley said.
The federal government is also in the process of buying 500 million at-home COVID tests for public distribution. They are reportedly expected to arrive in batches over the coming weeks and months.