Amazon is lending a helping hand to its home state of Washington, which announced today that it will distribute 5.5 million rapid tests as COVID-19 case counts hit all-time highs.
The Seattle tech giant will help deliver 3.5 million of those tests to families, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a media briefing Wednesday. Amazon will store and deliver the tests, and help run an online portal. Update: The site is live as of Jan. 21.
“Amazon is pleased to bring needed COVID tests to individuals and families across Washington state through this partnership with Governor Inslee’s office to leverage our warehousing, logistics, package tracking, and last-mile delivery network,” Gopal Pillai, vice president of Amazon distribution and fulfilment services, said in a statement.
The state will launch the online portal in mid-January that will allow people to order tests and get them delivered by Amazon to their doorstep. Each household will be able to receive one kit of five at-home tests.
“Amazon is a great partner for this effort because their business model is already set-up to do home delivery for other products,” said Elizabeth Perez, deputy secretary for public affairs and equity at Washington’s Department of Health.
The state’s effort is in addition to a federal distribution plan for rapid tests. Seattle’s King County also recently procured 700,000 test kits.
Healthcare software provider CareEvolution is also helping on the effort. The company powers logistics for the National Institute of Health’s nationwide “Say Yes, COVID Test!” program that was piloted in Washington state in November. Amazon provides warehousing and fulfillment services for that program across nine states.
Amazon last year handled deliveries and pickups of at-home coronavirus test kits for the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN). (Update: Amazon’s partnership with SCAN only lasted two months because the company could not meet SCAN’s logistics need, according to Dean Owen, senior marketing manager at the UW’s Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine.)
Demand for rapid tests has increased over the past month as COVID-19 cases rise due to the Omicron variant. There are also big lines at testing sites around the Seattle region.
Last summer, Amazon launched a $39.99 at-home PCR test kit for U.S. customers available to purchase on Amazon.com. The kit is currently not available. Amazon is selling other tests online but with long shipping times.
Amazon’s own test kit builds on its in-house COVID-19 testing program, which has processed millions of tests from more than 750,000 employees, according to the company.
Amazon previously partnered with the state of Washington on its Vaccine Action Command and Coordination System Center.
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