By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Despite shipping delays across the Twin Cities, an important package has started arriving in mailboxes.

The free rapid antigen COVID-19 tests from the federal government are en route to homes.

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We wanted to know: How does the cold weather affect COVID-19 test kits? Can it impact the results? Good Question.

The temperature outside Tuesday afternoon when the mail arrived for homeowners was below zero. Not ideal for people, and definitely not ideal for some packages.

The rapid test kits are shipped in a bag and surrounded by bubble wrap. The two thin layers are likely not meant to keep it warm. The kits are supposed to be stored between 36 degrees and 86 degrees. It also states not to freeze it.

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(credit: CBS)

Health officials said the tests will be fine if they’re sitting in a frigid mailbox for a few hours, but one manufacturer, iHealth, warns that any extended time spent in extreme cold or heat could affect the test results. If you can’t get to it right away, iHealth recommends you arrange for someone else to retrieve it as soon as possible.

There is liquid in the test kit, and while manufactures have not indicated if it will freeze, they do want people to let the kit warm up to room temperature before use.

If you’re worried about constantly checking your mailbox for the package, check your inbox first. Tracking numbers have been sent to the email addresses attached to orders, letting people know when they should arrive.

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Officials with the Minnesota Department of Health say the cold weather will not impact the at-home saliva tests from Vault Health, nor will it impact your sample when you ship it out.

Jeff Wagner