Here’s how to get an at-home COVID test kit in Anchorage

A person reaches for two small purple boxes from the hand of another person
The Anchorage Health Department had distributed 2,000 test kits to the Fairview and Spenard Rec Centers by Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

A delayed shipment of tens of thousands of rapid at-home COVID tests has arrived in Anchorage, and city officials say they’re racing to distribute them to sites around town before New Year’s. 

Rapid antigen tests have recently become more popular nationwide since they’re relatively easy to use and give results within about 15 minutes. President Joe Biden has also announced that the federal government will buy a half-billion of the at-home tests and will distribute them around the country.

Anchorage’s shipment Tuesday evening totaled 28,000 at-home test kits. By Wednesday, the city had distributed 2,000 of them to each of the recreation centers in Fairview and Spenard. The tests are free to residents who want them. Each person can get two tests, but must be physically present to pick them up.

By late Wednesday afternoon, the rec centers had given out hundreds of tests. They’ll be open from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday, according to the city’s testing website. 

The city will also be handing out the at-home tests at the Anchorage Downtown Partnership New Year’s Eve Celebration on Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

RELATED: Live performances and outdoor activities planned for Anchorage New Year’s Eve celebration

A distribution site for the tests in Girdwood, meanwhile, had given out all 500 of its tests within about two hours on Wednesday, according to a Facebook post from the community’s fire department.

In the Mat-Su area, over a dozen sites are distributing at-home test kits, according to the borough’s health information website.

Anchorage’s health department was still confirming Wednesday where else the tests will be available, said city spokesperson Corey Allen Young. He said the city will add the additional sites as they’re confirmed at Anchoragecovidtest.org.

At-home test kits are also being sold for about $30 at local pharmacies like Walgreens, but several of the businesses said they were running low or had sold out due to increased customer demand with upcoming New Year’s celebrations and the looming omicron variant. 

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is also handing out free at-home test kits to passengers inside security checkpoints. Passengers can ask for the kits at the airport testing site. 

Plus, online retailers are selling at-home tests, but they may take several days or weeks to arrive due to high demand. 

The at-home antigen tests aren’t as accurate as traditional PCR tests, but health officials say that with two tests taken at least a day apart, they are highly effective at catching infections. 

[Sign up for Alaska Public Media’s daily newsletter to get our top stories delivered to your inbox.]

Previous articleAlaskans endure air travel anguish as weather and virus keep them grounded days on end
Next articleUnalaska and Kodiak set winter warm weather records
Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@alaskapublic.org.