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How and where to get free at-home covid tests in Arkansas

by Brianna Kwasnik | January 12, 2022 at 4:24 p.m. | Updated January 18, 2022 at 12:29 p.m.
A worker grabs two at-home covid-19 test kits to be handed out during a distribution event in this Dec. 30, 2021, file photo. (AP/David Dermer)

Last week, Arkansas received the first shipments of the 1.5 million rapid covid-19 tests it has bought for residents to use. The at-home covid tests are available to all Arkansans for free. Locations across the state received shipments of tests to provide to members of the community, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Starting Tuesday, at-home tests are also available to order online from the federal government and receive through the mail.

Where can I get an at-home covid test?

Covid tests will be available for free for every U.S. address through the U.S. Postal Service.

Each order will ship for free and contain four individual rapid antigen tests. There is a limit of one order per residential address.

Orders can be made by visiting special.usps.com/testkits and filling in your shipping information.

Orders are expected to ship in 7-12 days. For more information, visit covidtests.gov.

To find a test available locally, below is a partial list of locations that are providing free at-home covid tests in Arkansas. Not all locations are included. Some may not currently have a supply of tests. Due to limited supply, it is best to call beforehand to confirm that a particular location has kits in stock. For a full list of locations, view the map below or visit the Health Department’s website.

Tests are being allocated to each location based on the area’s population and the rates of covid-19 cases per population, said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, the Health Department’s chief medical officer.

A number of libraries across the state have at-home kits available, including locations in Little Rock, Lonoke, Sherwood, Maumelle, Bryant, Benton, Conway, Wrightsville, etc.

North Little Rock:

North Little Rock Health Department

New Hope Baptist Church

Shorter College

Other locations:

Lonoke County on Aging Des Arc Senior Center (Lonoke)

Arkansas Department of Human Services (Benton)

Garland County Office of Emergency Management (Hot Springs)

England City Hall (England)

City Hall (Menifee)

Helena City Hall (Helena)

City Hall (Fulton)

Quitman City Hall (Quitman)

City Hall (Gould)

City Hall (Cotton Plant)

Mena Regional Hospital (Mena)

The Wellness Clinic (DeQueen)

CHI St. Vincent Mt Ida (Mt. Ida)

Good Samaritan Clinic (Fort Smith)

Blytheville Housing Authority (Blytheville)

Housing Authority of McGehee (McGehee)

Crawford County sheriff’s office (Van Buren)

Family Prayer and Worship Center (Rogers)

Conway County Care Center (Morrilton)

Partners for Progress (Perryville)

Main Street Mission (Russellville)

Bridging the Gaps (Texarkana)

NWA Council (Springdale)

The Jones Center (Springdale)

Food Bank of North Central Arkansas (Mountain Home)

Bethel AME Church (Memphis)

First Baptist Church (Trumann)

How many free at-home tests can I get?

If you are ordering from special.usps.com/testkits, you will receive four individual rapid antigen tests. There is a limit of one order per residential address.

If you are picking up tests from a location on the Arkansas Department of Health list, you are limited to two tests per day for an individual or six per day for a family. The tests come in boxes of two.

Should I take an at-home antigen test or get a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test?

Dillaha said the at-home tests are beneficial when a person is experiencing symptoms, to determine whether or not they should isolate, which she cites as the biggest value of the tests.

If a person’s results are positive, they should stay home and isolate, she said. If a person is negative and has symptoms, she said the results should be verified in some way in 24 to 48 hours. The test can be repeated at home, to see if the test turns positive or the person can get a PCR test. Some employers, she noted, require a negative result from a PCR test, because it is the most accurate.

If a person is at high risk for diseases, Dillaha recommended getting a PCR test, because if the result is positive, they may be eligible to receive one of the therapy treatments available.

How do I report a positive at-home covid test?

The Arkansas Department of Health will take reports of positive results from at-home tests at 1-800-803-7847.

Reporting your positive result is optional, said Department of Health spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill. She said although the daily covid-19 numbers the state records may not include all positives from at-home tests, the department still has enough information to know how prevalent covid-19 is in communities based on case data, rolling averages and percent positivity.

“Our recommendations based on this information is to strongly encourage all Arkansans to wear a mask, social distance, stay home if they are sick, and to get vaccinated and boosted if they are eligible,” she said.

Students who test positive, whether they are tested at home or at a facility, should immediately report the case to their school. 

“This is an important step, because schools will need to take quick action to minimize potential spread of covid-19 in the school,” McNeill said. 

The school will provide the student information about when it is appropriate to return to campus.

Where to go for in-person testing: 

Several Arkansas hospitals and local county health units offer testing for covid-19. See the list or explore the map below to find a location near you.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (Little Rock and Springdale) offers drive-thru testing (https://www.archildrens.org/coronavirus/covid-testing) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Little Rock) and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Springdale) Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays (both locations)

Baptist Health offers testing at multiple locations throughout the state. Drive-thru testing is available in Arkadelphia, Conway, Fort Smith (Baptist Health Medical Plaza), Heber Springs, Little Rock (Baptist Health Medical Center), Malvern and Stuttgart. For all other locations, appointments can be made online. Hours vary. (https://www.baptist-health.com/baptist-health-coronavirus-screening-locations/

Local county health units offer covid testing at no cost Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., according to McNeill. 

People may bring their insurance cards for billing, but no one will be charged, she said.

UAMS Medical Center offers drive-thru testing (https://uamshealth.com/location/covid-19-drive-thru-screening/) from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday. 

Where can I get vaccinated?

To schedule an appointment for the first or second dose of your vaccine or to receive your booster, you can visit vaccines.gov and enter your zip code to find a clinic near you. 

You can call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829.

For more information about the progress of vaccinations, including a map that tracks vaccinations at the county level across the U.S. and a map of Arkansas locations administering vaccines, visit our Vaccine Info page.

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