ATLANTA (KNWA/KFTA) — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are trying out an innovative community health initiative called, “Say Yes! COVID Test.”

Residents in Pitt County, North Carolina and Chattanooga/Hamilton County, Tennessee — about 160,000 — will have access to free, do-it-yourself, rapid antigen tests to use three-times a week for a month.

The NIH will provide a home-test and review the effectiveness of the initiative. What the agencies hope to learn is if self-administered COVID-19 testing helps reduce the spread of the virus that causes the disease, according to the CDC statement.

“Reliable and widely available testing is a critical part of our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. Regular screening with at-home COVID-19 tests can strengthen our prevention efforts,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky. “Combined with efforts to increase vaccinations, this important initiative will help us understand how best to utilize these new at-home tests to reduce viral transmission rates in communities.”

The local health department is offering the testing program. Participants may order test kits online for home delivery or pick up the kits at a local distribution site, according to the CDC.

The selection of the two communities was based on local infection rates, public availability of accurate COVID-19 tracking data, existing community relationships through the NIH and local infrastructure to support the project.

the QuickVue test developed by San Diego-based diagnostic company Quidel. The test received emergency use authorization for at-home use with a prescription by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 1, 2021. 

The CDC did not mention when the program may expand to other locations.