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Montana orders 650,000 rapid COVID-19 tests for residents

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HELENA — The state of Montana has ordered 650,000 rapid COVID-19 tests to be distributed to residents through county health departments, Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Thursday.

"As the state of Montana, like the rest of the nation, faces a new surge with the omicron variant, testing is a critical tool to help keep people safe with early detection," Gianforte said in a statement.

The tests, which cost a total of $5.5 million, should be delivered to the state during the week of Jan. 24, the governor said. The money comes from federal COVID-19 grant given to the state health department.

The tests will be allocated to county health departments, which will distribute them at no cost to residents. Once health departments have the tests, additional information on how and where tests can be obtained will be announced.

The CareStart tests are self-administered with results available in 10 minutes.

Montana has a population of 1.08 million, according to the 2020 Census.

The state reported 1,760 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, including 473 in Gallatin County. The number of positive cases likely does not include most positive home tests, officials said.

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that a website will be available next week for residents to request free rapid COVID-19 tests.

In response to criticism over shortages and long lines for tests, Biden said the federal government plans to double to 1 billion the number of rapid tests that will be available for free. Some tests will be available next week while others will be distributed over the coming months, he said.

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