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The Impacts Of Freezing Temperatures, Bitter Blast Of Cold Air On At-Home COVID-19 Testing Kits

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The free COVID-19 testing kits distributed by the U.S. government have started to arrive and are prompting a new question -- does it harm the tests if they sit in the mailbox while temperatures are bitter cold?

A major factor answering that question lies with how long the kit sits in the mailbox, as well as how cold the temperature gets, as most kits say in the instructions that the product should not be frozen.

The good news is that inside mailboxes, the testing kits are not exposed to the wind, but temperatures are far below the manufacturer's recommended temperature ranges.

Dr. Amesh Adalja said that he isn't worried about the test kits freezing while in the mailboxes.

"Hors to a day or so, I don't think is going to make much of a difference in terms of the accuracy of the tests," Dr. Adalja said.

Some companies leave open the door that freezing could impact testing results, but most just say to allow the kit to get to room temperature before using it.

"In general, if it's cold, you may keep it in your house for a couple of hours and then use it, but I don't know that there's any data to say that it's not going to work at those colder temperatures," Dr. Adalja said.

In addition to the COVID-19 testing kits being provided free of charge, free N95 masks are now being made available as well. How long should they be used before being discarded?

Dr. Adalja says that in a healthcare setting, the masks are intended for single use -- but the CDC acknowledges that people can use one for up to five days without concern.

"I think as long as they're not visibly soiled and as long as you feel that it's still tightly fitting, it's going to do what it's designed to do, for the most part," Dr. Adajla said.

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