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Inside Look At Pilot Program To Give Americans Chance To Test Themselves For COVID-19

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CBS4's David Begnaud shares more on the at-home testing program.

Video Transcript

LAUREN PASTRANA: And tonight, we're getting an inside look at a new pilot program to give Americans the chance to test themselves for the coronavirus at home. At first, the rapid testing kits will be handed out in two counties in North Carolina and in Tennessee. The goal is to measure how easy access to COVID tests can affect the spread of the virus. CBS News lead national correspondent David [INAUDIBLE] has more.

DAVID BEGNAUD: Welcome to Pitt County, North Carolina, population about 180,000. This is one of two sites chosen to be part of a new federal program to bring COVID testing into people's homes, starting at places like this.

- This is a happy day.

DAVID BEGNAUD: Holly Hill Free Will Baptist Church where after the services, parishioners were asked to say yes to the test.

- Thank you.

EVEANGEL SAVAGE: There are 25 tests in this kit.

DAVID BEGNAUD: EveAngel Savage is part of that outreach effort, managing the distribution of testing kits across 10 municipalities.

EVEANGEL SAVAGE: So by reaching out to our churches, we have a greater reach for the citizenry in our county.

- Here's your box here.

MAUEL MEDINA: OK. Thank you very much.

DAVID BEGNAUD: That outreach includes pastors like Manuel Medina from Greenville's Grace Family Fellowship. Pastor Medina has firsthand experience with COVID. Over the summer, it put him in the ICU. It also killed his mother-in-law Julia Medina.

MAUEL MEDINA: I understand what COVID is and how good these kits will be for the families to avoid that.

DAVID BEGNAUD: Nancy Hooks, who is a resident of Pitt County, showed us how it works. Each kit has 25 tests to be taken three times a week. Users swab their nose, place the swab inside the tube filled with a special solution, then remove the swab and put a test strip into the tube. 10 minutes later, the strip confirms a positive or negative antigen test.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: Three times a week testing with this kind of technology is just as good as the gold standard PCR.

DAVID BEGNAUD: Dr. Francis Collins is the director of the National Institutes of Health. He says the goal of the program is to see if home testing affects people's behaviors and slows transmission by comparing rates of transmission in Pitt County to similar communities that don't have those kits. Is it a little late in the pandemic to be doing this?

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: The technology to be able to do testing at home has really just gotten invented. And let's be clear. We're not over the risks of this pandemic. We still have 40,000 or 50,000 people a day testing positive.

DAVID BEGNAUD: And with just about 20% of Pitt County vaccinated at this point, there is still a long way to go before everyone is protected. So as of today, program managers say they've handed out more than 15,000 test kits so far. David Begnaud, CBS News, New York.