WASILLA — The Mat-Su Health Foundation is working with the Mat-Su Borough to distribute over 25,000 in-home rapid CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Tests across the Valley.

MSHF purchased the kits through federal funding from the CDC. The kits are free to the public and the Borough is distributing them through various channels such as the local school district, food pantries, libraries, and senior living facilities.

“It’s really exciting,” MSHF CEO Elizabeth Ripley said.

Borough emergency manager Casey Cook said they received the shipments this week, and they’re working to roll them out as quickly as possible.

“We’re really trying to make sure we’re reaching folks who are having difficulty getting testing done for whatever reason,” Cook said.

According to Ripley, this project addresses an urgent need to increase the Valley’s testing and vaccination rates.

“A majority of people in the Mat-Su are not vaccinated, but the majority of people in the Mat-Su also don’t want to make their neighbors, or their families, or friends sick right?” Ripley said.

Ripley said the 7,000 plus COVID-19 cases reported over the last 60 days show that testing needs to be easier, more accessible, and private to turn things around and reduce the spread of the virus and its variants.

“In the privacy of your own home, you can take the test to understand your COVID status before that family birthday party or before your grandparents or in-laws visit for the holidays, or before you head to work or church with any mild cold-like symptoms,” Ripley said. “If you understand your status if you have covid or not, especially before you engage in some highly social activity, you can really help prevent people from getting sick.”

Ripley noted that home test kits are safe and reliable, but they do have a higher rate of false-negative results. She encourages anyone who tests positive to take a follow-up test three days later and obtain a molecular/PCR test from a medical provider to confirm negative results, especially if they’re experiencing symptoms.

Ripley said they hope to have the opportunity to put together another project like this together in the future.

For more information about the free COVID-19 rapid in-home kits, call 907-373-2628.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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