(WXYZ) — The free at-home COVID tests Americans were able to order last week on the government website covidtests.gov are now landing in the mailboxes of some metro Detroiters.
The estimated shipping time was 7 to 12 days, but some kits are being delivered ahead of schedule.
Kate Hoffmire of Ann Arbor said her kit showed up in her mailbox less than 7 days after ordering.
"Would have assumed that it would have gone in the opposite direction and I would've gotten them a lot later, especially knowing how many the government is sending out, but here they are," she said.
The packaging isn't very protective nor does it include any kind of temperature control. Experts say that is a problem because if tests are in the cold for too long, they can be inaccurate.
Hoffmire's tests for example list a minimum of 36 degrees when storing.
"What most of the companies are saying is that it's ok if the test is left beyond those temperatures," Medical Director of Community Health at Beaumont Grosse Pointe Dr. Asha Shahjahan said. "Just a few hours, the maximum is 24 hours."
If you leave it outside for longer, here's what Dr. Asha Ahajahan says can happen.
"The sensitivity and specificity of the test can drop and vary depending on what temperature it's in," she said.
Considering metro Detroit is expected to see single-digit temperatures this week, the guidelines could be tricky to follow, especially if you aren't checking your email for shipment notifications.
"If you're out of town and it's been sitting out in the cold in freezing temperatures for several days, then it might not be accurate," Dr. Asha Shajahan said.
Hoffmire is likely in the clear because hers only sat outside for a few hours. The Ann Arbor resident is grateful to have them handy given the current demand.
"Being able to have tests when people do come over, friends or family, being able to test ourselves and also being able to test them is really comforting," she said.
No matter how long a test sits outside, it is important to make sure they warm to room temperature by the time you use them, that way your results will be as accurate as possible.