As the holiday season approaches and concerns over a potential increase in COVID-19 cases loom, the US government is once again making free at-home rapid tests available to households. In an effort to curb the spread of the virus and protect vulnerable populations, Americans can order up to four tests per household through the official website, covidtests.gov.
This initiative comes as health officials anticipate a resurgence of COVID-19, similar to previous winter seasons. Models from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predict a comparable number of hospitalizations, reaching nearly 45,000 per week at the peak.
The covidtests.gov website was relaunched last month, offering four tests per household. Now, those who have already ordered can request an additional four tests, while those who have yet to place an order can receive up to eight tests per household. Since September, approximately 14.5 million households have ordered tests, resulting in a total of 58 million tests shipped.
Health officials emphasize the importance of taking advantage of these free tests to prepare for social gatherings during the holiday season, especially when interacting with older and more vulnerable loved ones.
The availability of these tests is timely, given that some of the government’s stockpiled tests are nearing their expiration dates. While the Food and Drug Administration has extended the shelf life of many at-home tests, their efficacy remains limited.
The free at-home testing website has had a sporadic presence since the winter of 2022 when the omicron variant drove cases across the country. Despite temporary closures due to political disputes and funding concerns, it relaunched in December 2022 and then again in September of this year.
The tests provided through covidtests.gov are sourced from a $600 million investment in domestic test manufacturers. This investment aims to yield around 200 million tests and replenish the federal stockpile. The funding for this initiative stems from unspent relief funds from a previous COVID-19 bill and is part of ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic.
Q: How many tests can households order through covidtests.gov?
A: Each household can order up to four tests initially, with the opportunity to request an additional four tests if they have already placed an order or up to eight tests if they haven’t ordered yet this fall.
Q: Why is it important to take advantage of the free tests?
A: Health officials emphasize the importance of using these tests to better prepare for social gatherings during the holiday season, especially when interacting with vulnerable individuals.
Q: Where do the tests come from?
A: The tests provided by covidtests.gov are sourced from a $600 million investment in domestic test manufacturers, which aims to yield around 200 million tests and replenish the federal stockpile.
Q: What is the funding source for the testing initiative?
A: The funding for the $600 million investment comes from unspent relief funds from a previous COVID-19 bill.