DC Health admonishes contractor for reserving COVID-19 tests

As the rush for COVID-19 tests returns with cases on the rise, D.C. health officials are making sure there is equal access to the free kits they are offering.

DC Health said Wednesday that it learned a contractor at one of its distribution sites was holding tests for someone who had asked them to do so earlier.

The officials said in a tweet that “This is against standard practice and we have reminded all contractors that test kits are first come first serve.”

WTOP news partner NBC Washington reported that D.C. had distributed more than 43,000 rapid test kits on Thursday — well exceeding the 1,000 per ward that was originally proposed by the city.

According to NBC Washington, D.C. has roughly 200,000 kits on hand and expects an additional 200,000 kits by Sunday. Test kit distribution will resume on Sunday at 8 a.m.

Earlier this week, the District expanded access to free, at-home COVID-19 tests at eight of its libraries for those who can show proof of residency.

The demand for tests comes as D.C. quickly evolved into one of the nation’s virus hot spots due to the high transmissibility of the omicron variant.

Rapidly rising cases numbers are the reason Mayor Muriel Bowser reinstituted the city’s mask mandate on Monday. Two days later, she announced plans for restaurants, bars and gyms to require proof of vaccination starting Jan. 15.

Despite the rise in cases, early evidence from the UK suggests that an omicron infection is less likely to put someone in the hospital compared to other variants.

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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