Health Department to Distribute COVID-19 Tests at Fairgrounds

The test distribution marks a turnaround from the shortage that has plagued the health department since Jan. 7

By Mike Kordenbrock
COVID-19 antigen rapid test self test kits on Jan. 28, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Flathead City-County Health Department is planning on distributing free COVID-19 antigen tests Feb. 1 at the Flathead County Fairgrounds.

The tests will be available at the Expo Building from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or until supplies run out. Test kits will be limited to one kit per individual per household. Each kit contains two tests.

Businesses can also request COVID-19 test kits, and the health department asks that businesses fill out and submit a form, after which businesses are asked to send someone to pick up their requested supply at the fairgrounds during the distribution event. In a press release announcing the test distribution event, the health department notes that “allocations will depend on the number of employees and the current test kit supply,” and that “businesses will be allowed a maximum of one test kit per employee.”

The tests kits include CareStart tests, which are self-administered and provide results in 10 minutes.

Health Officer Joe Russell told the Beacon recently that the health department had requested 5,000 kits from the state, which he said amounted to about a quarter of the test kits allocated for Flathead County out of the recent shipment.

The test distribution marks a turnaround from the testing shortage that has plagued the health department since Jan. 7. Up until that point, the health department had been requesting about 1,000 tests a week from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). The new testing kits are drawn from a shipment of 650,000 ordered by the state arrived this week.

In a press release announcing the distribution of the tests to county and tribal health departments, DPHHS notes that those entities are required to provide an information page with each test kit, and that Montanans can report positive tests to DPHHS by scanning the QR code located on that information page, or by going online and filling out a DPHHS COVID-19 at-home test result reporting form.

COVID-19 testing is also available elsewhere in Flathead County, including at Logan Health. Hospital representatives earlier this month told the Beacon they had seen an increase in testing demand. By midway through January about 90% of tests conducted at Logan were PCR tests.