The warnings have been circulated since last spring from state and federal agencies including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

There are unscrupulously people peddling bogus home Covid-19 tests by email, text and social media and possibly even by telephone call. They’re also offering – untruthfully and illegally – to sell you vaccines and/or various pills and other products to cure the virus.

Be aware of the scams.

And while it’s certainly welcome, the recent approval by the FDA of a legitimate home Covid-19 test may make things feel murkier. Which tests are real? Which are fake? And what is the most you should ever consider paying for the convenience of taking a test at home?

An FDA-approved single home test is now selling for $110 on Amazon.com. Other, more dubious home tests are selling online at that price point and much higher.

In fact, if you live in Wisconsin, you need pay nothing for a Covid-19 test.

In late December, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Vault Medical Services announced that an at-home saliva-based Covid-19 test (comparable in accuracy to a nasal swab test) is now available for anyone in the state who wants one. The retail cost of the test is about $120, but the state is giving us free access to it.

To request a free at-home collection kit go to: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/testing.htm. You don’t have to prove you have symptoms to get one.

In Wisconsin, we also now have a lot of free in-person testing. A link to a statewide list of testing sites, broken down by county, is at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/testing.htm.

Locally, Jefferson County still has free drive-thru testing at Jefferson County Fair Park. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, with no appointment required.

Dane County also still has free drive-thru testing at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. It’s closed on Sunday and Monday.

In Dane County, many pharmacies now also offer free in-person Covid-19 testing including Hy-Vee, CVS, Walgreens and Forward Pharmacy.

And getting a test at Cottage-Grove-based Forward Pharmacy just got more convenient.

In December, Forward Pharmacy began offering free Covid-19 testing at two of its five locations, in Cottage Grove and McFarland. This week, it added free testing at two more sites, in Deerfield and Columbus. More information is available here: https://forwardpharmacywi.com

Forward Pharmacy owner Matt Mabie said its fifth site, in Cambridge, couldn’t be added due to limitations with the pilot community testing program it is part of through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Cambridge residents, he said, are encouraged to be tested in nearby Deerfield.

So, don’t be duped.

There’s no need if you live in Wisconsin to pay for a Covid-19 test. And statewide and locally, free in-person and home testing is now easy to access.

There are people hoping you’ll pay for their tests. Some of them are definitely not to be trusted, and even the legitimate are likely lured by the potential financial windfall.

Don’t let them fool you or your pocketbook.

This editorial originally ran in the Cambridge/Deerfield Independent.

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