Get up to 5 free COVID home tests from state

State residents can get up to five free rapid COVID-19 tests starting Jan. 21 – two years after the virus first hit the state and nation.

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Because of the magnitude of the Omicron variant, it has been difficult to obtain such testing nationwide.

“We anticipate people’s initial need in the test kits will exceed our current supply pretty quickly, but our focus is sharing what we have right now,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for Prevention & Health. “We want to make sure the tests we have are in homes when our state needs testing the most – during this current surge.”

Citizens also can now get four free test kits from the federal government by going to or calling 1-800-232-0233.

To make sure data is accurate, the state asks people to report positive results from at-home tests to 1-800-525-0127.

People can still buy COVID tests at local retailers and pharmacies, although the supply chain has been a challenge in recent weeks, and get tested at locations in Bainbridge, Poulsbo and elsewhere.

Two local ones are Mondays at Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 11042 Sunrise Drive NE; and at Poulsbo City Hall Parking Garage Thursdays at the same time at 200 Moe St.

Due to increased demands at drive-through testing sites pre-registration is required. Go to

If you have health insurance, most insurers will directly cover or pay you back for up to eight at-home tests per month for each person on your plan.

2 COVID years

Two years ago the first case of COVID was identified in the United States – in Snohomish County, WA. The first case in Kitsap County was March of 2020. Since then, about 29,000 in Kitsap, or one in 10 people, have tested positive for COVID.

While Omicron variant is declining is some parts of the country, it remains high in Kitsap, although it’s leveling off some. Hospitalizations remain high.

In his weekly report. Bainbridge city manager Blair King said the city has been a model of responsiveness and responsibility. Along with providing community testing and vaccinations, BI instituted an Economic Recovery Grant Program to help local businesses. It has balanced safety with providing essential services to residents.

“We will not be fatigued, and we will continue to rise to the occasion,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Kitsap County Emergency Operations news release says lives have been lost, along with jobs. It has disrupted schools and home life, with extended separation from friends and family. One resource that can help with the emotional toll is Washington Listens, a phone support line at 833-681-0211.

Because the Omicron variant is different than previous COVID strains, the isolation period has been reduce to five days. Those with the booster shot don’t have to quarantine at all when exposed, but should wear a mask at all times for 10 days afterwards.

Along with vaccinations, masks are key to protection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says N95 respirators provide the best protection, and the KN95 respirators and disposable surgical masks are good for everyday use. Cloth masks must be washed frequently.


The state Department of Health reports almost 1 million cases of COVID over the two years, with 10,339 deaths in the state.

Gov. Jay Inslee spoke to a House subcommittee on the coronavirus about the state’s actions.

“Number one; we decided to follow science and the data and our public health experts, and to be very vocal against the profoundly malicious efforts to not spread the truth about this vaccine that have been so damaging. Number two, we made a valued decision that saving lives was our first priority and it should remain unwavering. Third, we made the decision that the best way we could possibly reopen our economy was to knock down the virus,” he said.

A DOH report says case rates among children continue to be high at 2,087 per 100,000 population, with Education Service District 121 the worst, which includes Bainbridge, but also King and Pierce counties. Ages 14-19 had the highest number of cases with 2,732 per 100,000.

Another DOH report says unvaccinated 12-34 year olds are two times more likely to get COVID and five times more likely to be hospitalized than if they were vaccinated. Those 35-64 are three times more likely to get it and eight times more likely to be hospitalized. And those age 65 and older are four times more likely to get it, seven times more likely to be hospitalized and 13 times more likely to die. It adds that all of the vaccinations work well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death.

Another DOH report says like all vaccines the ones for COVID are not 100% effective. Of 162,307 breakthrough cases 31% reported symptoms, 3% were hospitalized and 969 died. Of the deaths, 614 had underlying conditions, 12 did not and 343 are unknown. The largest number of breakthrough cases were ages 20-49, at 57%. About 53% of the cases are women.

If you need information or have questions, the state COVID Assistance Hotline is 1-800-825-0127.