Love fills us with joy, lifts us up, and makes us feel alive. As determined by a recent Stanford University study, for many, love is found online.
Technological advances and the move of our social lives and networks to online platforms has shifted the dating world to unchartered territory–online dating websites (Match, Zoosk, OurTime, Plenty of Fish, OKCupid, eHarmony), dating apps (Bumble, Tinder, Hinge), gaming platforms (Words With Friends, Sociable, Yahtzee with Buddies) and unassuming networks (Facebook, Instagram). As if the dating world were not challenging enough to navigate. Now, those looking for love must also learn how to create a true connection through tech, while avoiding scammers.
At the end of last year, our office released a video and toolkit alerting Vermonters about imposter romance scams that can take place on dating platforms. Before looking for love online, check out the video and tools we created to help you to identify unscrupulous love interests and relationships of confidence.
First in a Two-Part Series on Free COVID-19 Test Kits
On Christmas day, I found out I was a close contact to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. Testing sites were closed for the holidays, and I hadn’t yet purchased any rainy day rapid COVID test kits. So, I did what many of you have had to, I hunkered down and waited until I was able to schedule a PCR test.
More than a month later now, I have been obtaining test kits from anywhere humanly possible; but not from scammers. I’ll admit, it’s been tricky figuring out not only which tests have FDA clearance, but also, how to obtain free test kits. I was dismayed when I called pharmacies and was provided the same message: No test kits in stock. I decided not to search the internet, predicting it would be a fruitless effort ripe with fake kits and hiked prices and store fronts offering freebies—which I knew to be impossible at the time—while requiring a steep payment for shipping and handling.
Now that the holiday demand surge has passed, there are ways to obtain free test kits. Just last week, I ordered from COVIDtests.gov and I managed to be one of the lucky firsts to have an order filled by SayYesCOVIDhomeTest.org. After providing my name, delivery address and email, they promised to send four test kits to my house: free of charge. And they did. The kits arrived in an Amazon smile box. While their site currently says they are out of stock, folks should check back as test kits will become available again for distribution. I submitted a request to COVIDtests.gov, too. The site redirected me to the US Postal Service site, USPS.com, where I merrily provided my information for my kits to be mailed to me when they are available.
I have not yet obtained a test kit from the pharmacy. However, I am looking forward to when the stores are well-stocked so that I can purchase them as needed and submit a request for reimbursement to my health insurance provider.
At-home tests kits are now covered by private health insurance.
Private health insurance: Each person covered by the plan can get free COVID-19 test kits by submitting a request for reimbursement claim form—up to eight test kits per month for tests purchased since December 2021.
Visit your insurance provider’s website or contact them directly for more information. For your convenience, I have included claim form links to common private health insurance providers in Vermont:
Medicare: While at-home antigen test kits cannot currently be purchased and reimbursed by Medicare, COVID-19 diagnostic tests ordered by an authorized health care professional and performed by a laboratory are.
When purchasing from the pharmacy, I plan to check on availability when I happen to be in the store, rather than calling and occupying their phone line while they are short-staffed.
I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for notices about free test kit availability from trusted sources, like the Vermont Department of Health, Community Health Centers, schools, employers and local government, while keeping in mind that free PCR testing remains an option throughout the state.
You Can Get Free COVID-19 Test Kits!
Eventually, there will be enough test kits to supply all the folks who want and need them. If you are ever curious about the latest updates on COVID-19 test kit availability and testing sites, check in directly with the Vermont Department of Health.