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Vault Health’s home test kits for COVID-19 should return a result in 24 to 48 hours.

New Mexicans will be spitting a lot at the start of 2021.

The state Department of Health is forecasting that more than 66,000 at-home COVID-19 saliva tests will be conducted through Feb. 2 under a highly touted program designed to increase testing in New Mexico, which officials have called an “essential tool” in the fight against the virus.

“The estimates assume that the number of test kits ordered is equal to the number of test kits processed,” DOH spokesman James Walton wrote in an email. “New Mexico and Vault [the company the state is contracting with to provide the home test kits] are in the ramp up period for the initial four weeks of the statewide program and we are working together to refine our estimates over the next month.”

The self-administered tests, which are being offered free of charge, provide residents an alternative to what can often be long lines and long waits for an in-person test.

Residents will need just a handful of things to take the test: photo identification, an email address, access to online videoconferencing through Zoom and a fair amount of saliva to spit into a tube.

The tests are available to residents regardless of whether they have any symptoms or have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Once ordered online at learn.vaulthealth.com/nm/, the at-home test kit is mailed via expedited shipping. After receiving the test, residents must log on to a virtual waiting room via Zoom to connect with a testing supervisor while collecting the saliva sample. Residents then mail the sample back for laboratory processing in a prepaid UPS package. Results should be available within 24 to 48 hours of arrival at the lab.

Though testing is free, people will be asked to provide insurance information if they have insurance.

“We need more New Mexicans to get tested,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement when the state announced the launch of the program last month.

“We’ve worked hard every single day this year to make testing fast, easy and accessible to everyone,” she said. “We ensured, from the very start, that cost would not be an obstacle for New Mexicans needing a COVID-19 test.”

The governor also said testing is one of the best ways for New Mexico to reopen its economy.

Just over 2 million COVID-19 tests have been performed in New Mexico since the start of the pandemic, according to the state, which has reported more than 146,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,500 deaths related to the virus.

The level of public health restrictions in New Mexico is determined under a tiered and color-coded system, which measures the level of risk of COVID-19. The test positivity rate is one of two metrics the state uses to determine each county’s level of risk.

“We can drive down county positivity rates, help more businesses and workers get safely back on their feet, and keep more New Mexicans healthy,” the governor said last month. “But it all starts with you, and it starts with getting a test. This is a very, very promising development.”

The launch of the program got off to a rocky start when the Vault website initially asked for credit card information.

As of Wednesday of last week, more than 9,000 tests had been ordered online.

The state is providing the tests under a $4 million contract with Vault Medical Services, P.A.

According to the company’s website, Vault’s specialty is “knowing men, and what makes them tick.” The company’s website also states that its goal is “to give men an easier way to identify and treat the symptoms of low testosterone.”

A spokesman for the governor said it would be “erroneous” to assert that’s all Vault does.

“Lots of different companies are putting their resources to creative use amid the pandemic,” the spokesman, Tripp Stelnicki, wrote in an email last week. “If you’re looking at their website you’ve also seen that Vault has ‘teamed with Infinity BiologiX and Spectrum Solutions to offer saliva testing in your home for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,’ after the FDA granted emergency use authorization for at-home saliva tests. The state of New Mexico will continue to make every effort to make COVID-19 testing more accessible.”

Vault did not return a message seeking comment.

(5) comments

John Cook

I understand the value of widespread testing. It locates hotspots and it finds asymptomatic spreaders of the disease. I'm all for it (as distinguished from the 'know nothing crowd') but I have a question. Suppose some people are not willing to test if they have no symptoms but aren't in the 'denier' crowd. Can they order up a home test and let it sit around until they want to take it later?

Mike Johnson

That is a good question. As a scientist, who has more than a little experience with data sampling, statistics, and probability, the original concepts of focused random testing on the most vulnerable populations, and rapid results to quickly isolate and contact trace positive cases, was a good one scientifically. However, since the testing was done on a highly biased, skewed sampling (any people with symptoms or who think they had come in contact with people with symptoms) it was flawed and unscientific from the outset. The countries that were successful used the original concept of testing, not the biased one we have used in the US in every state.

Mike Johnson

"Knowing men..." "Giving men....." Misogynistic much? What kind of company is this our politician is giving millions to??? You should note that the best at home, non-Rx Covid test will be available in drug and grocery stores, and online, as the FDA approved it last month. And this test will not require the state know anything about you, your insurance, or your results and your results are known in minutes. It does cost $30, but most insurance will pay for it, "free" is obviously not really free in the case of this Vault test. The best test is the one that is anonymous and private, not this saliva test....https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-antigen-test-first-over-counter-fully-home-diagnostic

ba hop

there really is NO privacy anymore... if you use google or an android phone--somebody knows this about you already... at least w/ the NMDOH FREE test- they are most likely bound by HIPA.

as per the FDC website for the test you recommend instead;

"The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test uses an analyzer that connects with a software application on a smartphone to help users perform the test and interpret results. Results are delivered in as little as 20 minutes to individuals via their smartphone. The mobile application requires individuals to input their zip code and date of birth, with optional fields including name and e-mail address, and reports the results as appropriate to public health authorities to monitor disease prevalence"

they may not have your name from the test -- but all the info about you from your phone & the App

Mike Johnson

The difference is that you do not have to use the mobile app to get results. They can be private and only known by you. The state test doesn't allow any privacy.

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