As the holidays approach and the possibility of an increase in COVID-19 cases looms, the government is once again providing households with the opportunity to order four free COVID-19 tests online. The website, covidtests.gov, remains a valuable resource for Americans to access these at-home rapid tests, especially after the requirement for insurance companies to cover eight tests per month ended with the conclusion of the public health emergency last spring.
Just as winter has brought a resurgence of COVID-19 over the past three years, health officials are anticipating a similar trend this year. Modeling data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that hospitalizations could reach nearly 45,000 per week at its peak, mirroring last year’s numbers.
To facilitate preparedness for the holiday season, the test ordering website has relaunched with an option to order an extra four tests per household for those who have already placed an order, making it a total of eight tests per household. Individuals who have not yet ordered this fall can also take advantage of the offer.
Since September, around 14.5 million households have ordered tests, resulting in the shipment of 58 million tests, as reported by the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), a department within the Department of Health and Human Services. Health officials are hopeful that people will utilize these free tests to protect themselves and their loved ones, especially those who are more susceptible to the coronavirus.
Furthermore, some of the stockpiled tests are nearing their expiration dates, prompting the government to encourage their use rather than letting them go to waste. While the Food and Drug Administration has extended the expiration dates for many at-home tests, they still have a limited shelf life.
The availability of free at-home tests has been intermittent since the winter of 2022 when the omicron variant caused a surge in cases nationwide. President Joe Biden pledged to distribute 1 billion free rapid tests at the time to alleviate the demand. However, the website was temporarily shut down due to a political dispute over COVID-19 funding. The testing site relaunched in December 2022 during another spike in cases and reopened in September of this year.
The tests provided through covidtests.gov are part of a $600 million investment in domestic test manufacturers, resulting in approximately 200 million tests and replenishing the federal stockpile. The funding for this investment comes from the remaining money from a previous supplemental COVID-19 bill. Despite the clawback of approximately $30 billion in unspent relief funds due to the debt ceiling deal, there was sufficient funding to allocate towards replenishing the testing stockpile this fall.
Get ready for winter by taking advantage of the opportunity to order free COVID-19 tests through covidtests.gov. Protect yourself and your loved ones during the holiday season and beyond.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. How many free COVID-19 tests can households order?
Households can order four free COVID-19 tests, with the option to order an additional four for those who have already placed an order.
2. Who is eligible to order free COVID-19 tests?
All Americans can order free COVID-19 tests through the website covidtests.gov.
3. How many tests have been ordered so far?
Since September, approximately 14.5 million households have ordered tests, resulting in the shipment of 58 million tests.
4. Why is it important to order and use these free tests?
Ordering and using these free tests can help individuals better prepare for gatherings during the holiday season, particularly when interacting with vulnerable individuals who are more susceptible to COVID-19.
5. Are the tests going to expire?
Some of the stockpiled tests are approaching their expiration dates. While the Food and Drug Administration has extended the expiration dates for many at-home tests, it is still crucial to use them within their limited shelf life.