Post Episode 28: COVID-19 home test rollout revealed distribution questions and prompted a new wave of “fakes”

Journalists discuss the affects on communities and tips for following pandemic numbers as cases fall

InvestigateTV - In this month’s episode of POST, we discuss stories about the COVID-19 test rollout earlier this year, how pharmacies were left to deal with the extremely high demands and what people can do to be keep up with the data as cases fall.

Noah Caplan, a news reporter from Gray Television affiliate KTTC in Rochester, Minnesota and Cody Winchester, IRE’s director of technology and online resources, joined the show to discuss COVID-19 tests as well as how the test rollout resulted in high demands which left many pharmacies overwhelmed.

Caplan told POST that the rollout initiated by the U.S. government in January had direct effects on pharmacies and potentially lasting effects on insurance companies. High demands for tests had pharmacies scrambling. As for insurance companies, new regulations required them to pay for up to eight tests per insured person through either reimbursement or direct coverage.

“If people really utilized this, and say there’s a house of five people and each of them buy eight tests a month, that puts an insurer on the hook for almost $500 a month if you do the simple math,” Caplan said.

Now with COVID-19 subsiding, tests have become normalized and easier to access. But with the tests still necessary for accessing certain events without vaccine cards - and home tests becoming a normal medicine cabinet staple - there are still some things to look out for when buying tests such as making sure they are not fake.

“You want to make sure you’re getting your COVID test from some sort of source you would trust. Lots of pharmacies have programs, you can buy them there and get reimbursed if you have a health plan,” Winchester said.

Due to the uncertainty around COVID-19 stains and waves, having tests on hand or going to testing locations has become the new normal.

For official testing sites, Winchester mentioned the CDC’s site to find a place or using local health department websites.

“A lot of times states will have a dedicated webpage or somewhere online where you can go to figure out where you can go to get a test yourself,’’ Winchester said.

Stories/resources featured in this episode:

KTTC Pharmacies not entirely pleased with ‘free’ COVID-19 test rollout

WSJ Covid-19 Test Distribution Plans Put More Pressure on U.S. Supply

FOX59 Technical issues prevent Hoosiers from ordering at-home COVID tests during nationwide rollout

CDC COVID Data Tracker

New York Times Track Coronavirus Cases in Places Important to You

Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard

CDC Community Based Testing Sites

Post is a media review program from InvestigateTV, Gray Television’s streaming channel dedicated to in-depth and watchdog reporting. Post is presented in partnership with the journalism organization Investigative Reporters and Editors. The monthly program is taped at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, a partner of InvestigateTV.

Episode written and produced by: Justine Arens and Jamie Grey, InvestigateTV

Production by: Director Travis McMillen and production assistant Jared Rubenstein, RJI

Video Editing by: Jon Turnipseed, InvestigateTV

Graphics and Animations by: Owen Hornstein, InvestigateTV

Jamie Grey

Jamie Grey

Jamie is InvestigateTV's managing editor. She coordinates content and produces stories with a particular passion for digging into government programs and waste, health care policy and education.