Free COVID-19 tests and N95 masks available in Chester County

Free+COVID-19+tests+and+N95+masks+available+in+Chester+County

By Rohan Anne, Staff Reporter

The federal government made free COVID-19 tests and N95 masks available in limited amounts in early February. Several counties and states will directly get these resources, with Chester County being one. Masks are given to and distributed by Chester County pharmacies, while the COVID-19 tests must be ordered at www.covidtests.gov and will be delivered by USPS. This effort is part of a federal program to provide free at-home tests with complimentary shipping to every residential address and PO Box in the United States. Sophomore Justin Chow learned about these free resources from his family. 

“My cousin, who just finished college and is working now, texted us and told us that these free resources were available.” 

The White House made 400 million non-surgical N95 masks freely available from the Strategic National Stockpile, a federal storage which will supplement any medical countermeasures needed by states, nations and territories during public health emergencies. Each citizen will be allowed three N95 masks, which will be distributed and given out at tens of thousands of pharmacies and federal community health centers, often places where vaccinations are available as well. Jim Reilly, the manager at the CVS in Paoli, helped to organize the distribution of masks at the pharmacy. 

“In order for people to receive their masks, they must ask for them at the checkout area where the masks are kept and will receive three masks for each family member.”  

At Conestoga, many students began learning about and taking advantage of the government-provided and free N95 masks and COVID-19 tests. According to a survey administered by The Spoke, 61% of students know about the availability of these free resources, of which 33% have actually taken action to receive the products. While some people were experiencing major delays in early February, some like senior Peyton Quinn,  started to receive their tests at the end of the month.

“It’s just kind of frustrating because it said 12 days on the website where I ordered them, and it has been over a month now,” Quinn said. “I understand that there will be a shipping delay because of the lack of workers, but I feel like over a month is kind of ridiculous if it said 12 days, and I never even got a follow up email or heard anything related to my order afterwards. However, I finally received a follow-up email on Wednesday (Feb. 23) and got the tests on Thursday (Feb. 24).” 

Despite the delays on the online orders of COVID-19 tests, the availability of N95 masks is much more reliable through an in-person approach at nearby pharmacies, including the Audubon Walmart and Paoli CVS. Sophomore Sienna Trudel believes these government resources will provide greater access to N95 masks and COVID-19 tests. 

“I think it provides an advantage, especially for those of lower income who don’t have as much access to these products. These resources also provide an easier way, especially for busy families, to have access to the current necessities,” Trudel said. “People now have better access to masks, but especially when the Omicron variant started, the tests were the best thing to be given out, because instead of having to go out and book an appointment, they can now order these free tests and do them from home.”


Rohan can be reached at [email protected]