CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The White House recently rolled out a new website called COVID.gov. It’s touted as a one-stop shop for COVID information and resources.
The website shows where you can get free masks, vaccines, testing, and treatment.
“I think the website is again coming from a good place and they have all of the required options but awareness is the key,” said Dr. Raghav, Tirupathi, medical director of infection prevention at WellSpan Chambersburg and Waynesboro hospitals.
Tirupathi says many people aren’t aware of their options, especially patients he serves in Franklin county.
Get daily news, weather, breaking news, and sports alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here.
“They need to use this ability to order at-home tests which is free and available through the federal government will be shipped out to your house at no cost to you,” Tirupathi said. “So please use that resource and have it handy. When you do develop symptoms test at the first possible symptom.”
Another option is the Test to Treat initiative. There are 2,000 sites nationwide of pharmacies and community health centers offering COVID-19 testing and anti-viral pills.
The pills available are Paxlovid from Pfizer and Molnupiravir from Merck.
“They limit viral replication in the first case was with Paxlovid, and with Molnupiravir, they lead to virus breakdown,” Tirupathi said. “Either way they prevent the virus from multiplying in the body.”
The problem is there are only five Test to Treat locations in the Midstate. There are three near Harrisburg, one in York and one in Lancaster.
If you can’t get to one of those locations, “The provider sees them in an urgent care setting typically gets them the COVID-19 tests and if they do turn positive, they’re sent to a local retail pharmacy which starts these medications,” Tirupathi said.
Time is crucial. Those pills need to be given within the first five days of getting symptoms.
“The hope is that more and more centers buy into this area, into this idea of providing this test as well as the treatment option at the same place,” Tirupathi said. “I think the federally qualified health centers have a big role to play.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “HHS-ASPR is interested in expanding Test and Treat to include additional locations that are identified by state and territorial partners. States and territories are encouraged to identify sites within their jurisdiction that meet the Test to Treat site requirements and then reach out to their ASPR Regional Emergency Coordinator to receive additional information and guidance.”
The good news is national projections show cases will continue going down, but Tirupathi says it’s important to be prepared in case we see an increase in cases.
“I would be very careful at the earliest possible uptake in cases to implement more aggressive measures of public health,” Tirupathi said.