Free COVID tests: In response to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and an increasing number of deaths, the Biden administration has relaunched its at-home testing program, allowing Americans to order four free COVID-19 tests starting today. This initiative comes as a critical step in the ongoing battle against the pandemic.
A Sobering Reality
The decision to reopen the program stems from concerning data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicating that COVID-19 hospitalizations have surpassed 20,000 for the first time since March. Disturbingly, the CDC’s COVID data tracker has revealed that 2.7% of all deaths in the United States during the week of September 10-16 were linked to COVID-19, marking a 12.5% increase compared to the previous week.
Addressing an Insurance Gap
Since the expiration of the public health emergency in May, many insurers ceased covering the cost of COVID-19 tests, leaving individuals to bear the financial burden. Consequently, the government’s at-home testing program has been unavailable since June 1, creating a significant gap in testing accessibility.
The Biden Administration’s Response
To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a reopening of the COVID testing program, coupled with a substantial $600 million investment across 12 domestic COVID-19 test manufacturers. Beginning on Monday, September 25, households across the country can order four free tests via COVIDTests.gov, a platform directing users to the U.S. Postal Service’s website for ordering.
Notably, these tests will be provided at no cost, with free shipping commencing the week of October 2 through USPS. For those who may encounter difficulties ordering online, a government hotline is also available at 1-800-232-0233 or TTY 1-888-720-7489 to assist with test requests.
A Look Back and Forward
The at-home COVID test program was initially launched in January 2022, offering four free tests per residential address, regardless of the number of residents. Over time, it underwent expansions and suspensions, ultimately being revived in December before temporarily shutting down on May 31.
Extended Expiration Dates
The tests being distributed will detect currently circulating COVID-19 variants and are intended for use through the end of 2023. Included with the tests are instructions on how individuals can verify the extended expiration dates. Additionally, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the expiration dates for several over-the-counter COVID tests, granting several extra months for their use.
For a comprehensive list of approved COVID-19 tests and their revised expiration dates, individuals can visit the FDA website.
This relaunch of the at-home testing program underscores the government’s commitment to combating the ongoing pandemic and ensuring that essential resources are accessible to all Americans.