COVID-19 home test kit | Photo: Jernej Furman (via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Residents in 14 Illinois counties, including the Waukegan and North Chicago area, are eligible to order free COVID-19 test kits, state health officials said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on Friday that 225,000 free COVID-19 test kits are available to be ordered as part of Project Access Covid Tests (ACT).

Project ACT is a new direct-to-consumer mail order program in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, health care technology company CareEvolation, test manufacturer iHealth Labs, Inc. and Amazon, IDPH said.

Residents in certain zip codes in 14 counties are eligible to order the free COVID-19 tests.

Counties include Cook, DuPage, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Kankakee, Lake, Macon, Madison, Marion, Peoria, St. Clair, Will and Winnebago.

Residents with zip codes 60064 and 60085, which include the Waukegan, Park City and North Chicago area, are eligible.

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Residents in those zip codes can sign up for free home delivery by visiting www.accesscovidtests.org.

Tests are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Each household will receive five tests within one to two weeks of ordering, IDPH said.

Since the project is in the initial phase, households are currently limited to one kit and each kit includes five tests.

The tests and shipping are free to eligible residents, IDPH said.

Officials say these test kits have been given emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The tests require a quick swab inside each nostril and results can be read in minutes.

Ideal candidates are those who are not vaccinated or those who have the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19. However, anyone two years and older is able to test.

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IDPH determined eligibility based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) social vulnerability index.

The social vulnerability index looks at 14 social factors in areas such as socioeconomic status, household composition, disability, housing and transportation.

The Rockefeller Foundation is working to bring in new partners to expand the program.

“Testing is still a critical component for slowing transmission of COVID-19 and helping prevent further infections,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

“With readily available at-home testing, individuals can find out very quickly if they are positive and take action to isolate for five days while alerting those with whom they had close contact that they should also test. Readily available tests can help us chart a course for the new normal and help us learn how to coexist with COVID-19,” Ezike added.