NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Chopper 10 was high above Sentara Princess Anne Hospital last year for mass COVID-19 testing. It was an ideal site for those with wheels in the suburbs. In the months to follow COVID-19 testing became widespread and was available at drug stores and supermarkets.
Now, the president will distribute 500-million free at-home COVID-19 test kits as cases — fueled by the Omicron variant — have mirrored the seasonal uptick from last year.
Administration officials say all you have to do is sign up on a new government website and the kit will be delivered to your door.
Sounds easy, unless you live in a so-called underserved community.
Dr. Anna Peoples, founder of Peoples Pharmacy on Norfolk’s historic Church Street, has been on the front lines from the beginning of the pandemic. When asked whether the home test kit plan will be effective for virus surveillance, Peoples was blunt. “Absolutely not” was her initial response.
“In underserved communities, we still have an issue, an infrastructure issue with people having access to the internet as well as having access to other types of social media… So that may not work well for the medically underserved community and also for people who are computer illiterate,” said Peoples.
Norfolk pastor Rev. Geoffrey Guns is also on the front lines delivering the life-saving shots at bus stops, street corners, and even door to door in the Young Terrace public housing community. Guns says the president’s test kit plan is noble and commendable but it’s very impractical in some communities.
“You will have WiFi issues and connectivity issues in some homes… Depending on the family size, there is no postal box that can hold a kit. It would have been better to send them to churches like Second Calvary Baptist Church or other churches,” said Guns in a statement to 10 On Your Side.
The boots on the ground are standing by to help. The pharmacy technicians at Peoples Pharmacy are also community health professionals who can help get the kits in hands but also teach residents how to properly use them, according to Peoples.
The new government test kit website will not hit the internet until January, according to administration officials.