Lubbock to receive additional COVID assistance from federal government

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LUBBOCK, Texas- The City of Lubbock Health Department said on Tuesday that Pfizer pills and at-home COVID tests may soon be available to people in the community.

Katherine Wells, the director of the Lubbock Health Department, said the state of Texas should be receiving an allotment of Pfizer pills early January, but did not know how many pills Lubbock would receive.

“We’ll have to see how much is allocated to the state of Texas and then how much comes into Lubbock,” Wells explained.

The pills, recently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, are used to treat COVID-19 cases.

Wells also discussed what the future looks like for free at-home testing in Lubbock, after the Biden Administration recently announced it’ll purchase 500 million at-home COVID tests to counter the Omicron surge.

She said she doesn’t know when they could reach Lubbock, but the Health Department is ready to help with distribution when that happens.

“I do not know if that will be through local health departments, through hospitals, or through community-based clinics. If they give them directly to the health department, we will work on a way to distribute those to the community,” Wells shared.

The at-home tests are similar to what someone would find at a COVID testing site. However, the Health Department said at-home tests present new challenges.

“I always get nervous with at-home testing because it doesn’t always get reported to the health department. We don’t know all of the numbers,” she explained. “However, at this stage in the pandemic, it’s more important for people to know whether or not they’re carrying the virus so that they can take those precautions to reduce the spread.”

Despite this challenge, local health officials said they hope the tests provide much-needed relief to healthcare providers. Wells said she believes these test kits will relieve the “crowdedness” in healthcare facilities.

“So that individuals that really are ill and actually need to see the provider… There’s time and space for them to come in,” she clarified.

Beginning in January, private insurers will cover the expense of at-home testing, which gives people two options: buying tests at a store or online, and then seeking reimbursement from their provider.

However, the Biden Administration is working to provide access to free at-home tests for those who may not have health insurance.

To receive a free testing kit online, you must submit a request to a government-run website, which will be activated after the first batch of test kits have been delivered. The web address is not yet publicly available.

KLBK News is following this story and will update the public with more information as we receive it.

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