BERKS COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Berks County will be the first in the nation to test a new program designed to learn more about how home test-to-treat programs could help defend against COVID-19, the state Department of Health said on Tuesday.
The new COVID-19 Home Test to Treat Pilot Program is run by the National Institute of Health and the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response through the U.S. Department of Human Services, according to the Department of Health.
The program will provide testing, telehealth consultations, and delivery of anti-viral medication for free to eligible community members, the Department of Health explained.
“The Department of Health is committed to creating health equity across Pennsylvania,” Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson said. “The Home Test to Treat pilot program is a step toward that goal and we are excited that Berks County was chosen as the first in the nation to pilot this important program.”
Community members must be at least 18 years old, have an email address, and speak English or Spanish to participate in the program, the department noted. Enrollment for residents in Berks County will begin on Jan. 17, and the Health Department says details on how to enroll will be available soon.
After they enroll, participants can receive at-home COVID tests by mail. If they test positive, they will be invited to have a telehealth consultation and can receive free anti-viral medication via delivery or pickup at a local pharmacy, the department said.
“The County of Berks is honored to be selected as the first community to pilot this nationwide program,” said Berks County Public Relations Officer Stephanie Weaver. “We hope our residents will take advantage of these new, free resources and in turn be better prepared to detect and treat COVID-19 when it strikes.”
State and Berks County officials are hoping to enroll 8,000 people in the study, the Health Department said. Study organizers will collect information from participants and determine how the program can be improved before it is implemented nationally, according to the department.
The U.S. Department of Human Services said additional communities around the country will be chosen to participate in the pilot program based on community need, access to health care, anticipated COVID infection rates, socio-economic factors, and local capability to support the program, according to the Department of Health.