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Tinder is giving away free mail-in COVID-19 tests

Tinder is giving 500 users a pair of free mail-in COVID-19 test kits — one for them and one for a Tinder match. The company says it’s a way to help people feel more comfortable meeting up with matches for real-life dates.

It’s using tests from the medical testing company EverlyWell. People taking EverlyWell’s coronavirus tests swab their noses at home and mail the sample to the lab. Results are posted online within one to two days.

Throughout the pandemic, dating app companies have introduced new features to help people date safely. One main focus was on ways to facilitate virtual dates, which are actually a good way to meet people without the risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19. Bumble recently launched Night In, a feature that lets users play games together over a video call.

Tinder is framing its test kit giveaway as another way to reduce the risks of dating. “We’re excited to be working with Everlywell to make it easier for our members to go and meet their matches safely,” Nicole Parlapiano, Tinder’s vice president of marketing for North America, said in a statement.

But giving out test kits doesn’t make an in-person date entirely safe. Taking a COVID-19 test before meeting up with someone new helps but doesn’t eliminate risk entirely: someone could take the test, send it out, and then catch the coronavirus in the window before the result comes back.

Tinder gestures at this in an interface for the giveaway, saying that “a negative test result does not mean you don’t have or cannot transmit COVID-19.”

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According to Tinder, more and more people are saying in their profiles that they want to go on a date. There are ways to make that safer, like meeting outside, wearing masks, or avoiding other people before and after. Tests can play a role in that overall calculus — but a negative result isn’t a free pass.

Tinder users in the United States can claim a code for the tests on March 20th starting at 7PM ET. If you don’t manage to snag one, free COVID-19 tests are also available at health centers and pharmacies across the country.