New Hampshire to sell COVID-19 tests at liquor stores

New Hampshire has expanded access to rapid COVID-19 tests by making them available at many retail stores and mailing them directly to residents, and will soon be offering the kits at another location: state liquor stores.

A proposal approved by the Executive Council authorizes the state Department of Health and Human Services to use $12 million in federal pandemic aid to purchase 1 million at-home COVID-19 tests and sell them at liquor stores. The kits will be sold for $17 per single test, including an administrative fee, and will be covered by insurance.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Lori Shibinette said selling test kits at liquor stores will help reach more people as the state continues to battle a winter surge of infections.

She said nationwide supply chain issues have made it difficult for many Granite Staters to find rapid COVID-19 tests at local pharmacies and other retail outlets.

“With the continued increase in community spread of COVID-19 in New Hampshire, rapid and early detection is important to reduce the spread of disease throughout New Hampshire, limit the strain on our medical care system, and keep schools and businesses open,” Shibinette wrote to lawmakers.

New Hampshire has nearly 70 state run liquor stores located along highways, near borders with neighboring states and major urban centers. State officials say money from the sale of the kits will be used to purchase more tests.

In November, Gov. Chris Sununu made about 800,000 rapid tests available for residents to be delivered to their homes by mail, but the inventory was snapped up in less than 24 hours.

The testing push comes amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations following the holiday break, fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant.

State health officials say regular testing, even among those who are vaccinated or without COVID-19 symptoms, can help detect infection early and prevent community spread.

The rapid tests can be completed in 15 minutes, without sending a sample to a laboratory.

The Biden administration is also working to make rapid tests more accessible, both by increasing supply and bringing down costs.

A policy announced by Biden in early January requires private insurers to cover up to eight rapid tests per month for people covered by their health plans.

The administration has also launched a website to begin making 500 million tests available by mail, and has scaled up emergency rapid testing sites.

This article was originally posted on New Hampshire to sell COVID-19 tests at liquor stores