FAQ about Free At-Home COVID Tests for the Holiday Season

FAQ about Free At-Home COVID Tests for the Holiday Season

Q: How can I get free COVID tests from the government?

To get free at-home COVID tests from the government, every U.S. household is eligible to order four tests starting from Monday, November 20. You can visit COVIDtests.gov, fill out the online form with your full name and mailing address, and submit your order. The tests will be shipped for free via USPS to the provided location, including P.O. boxes. You will receive an order number and updates via email if you provide your email address. For those who need assistance or cannot access the online form, there are helpline numbers available.

Q: How long will it take for the tests to arrive?

Once the tests are shipped, they will be sent via USPS Ground Advantage, which typically takes around two to five days for delivery.

Q: Are at-home tests as accurate as PCR tests?

At-home tests are rapid antigen tests and are generally considered accurate and reliable when reporting positive results. However, they may not be as effective as PCR tests in detecting the virus when the patient is not exhibiting symptoms. It is recommended by the FDA to take two negative antigen tests for individuals with symptoms or three antigen tests for those without symptoms, performed 48 hours apart. A single PCR test is sufficient in comparison.

Q: Should I get tested before attending holiday gatherings?

It is advisable to get tested as close to the time of the event as possible, preferably within 1-2 days. If you use an antigen test, following recommendations for repeat testing will help ensure a more accurate negative result. It is also suggested to practice social distancing, wear masks, and maintain good hand hygiene during large gatherings or when visiting at-risk individuals. Keeping up to date with COVID vaccines, flu shots, and RSV shots is recommended as well.

Q: What if I have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you do not have symptoms but have been exposed to COVID-19, it is recommended to wait at least 5 full days after your exposure before taking a test. If you plan to take a single test, a PCR test will provide a more reliable negative result. However, if you use an antigen test, a positive result is reliable, but a negative result may not always be accurate. If your antigen test is negative, it is recommended to take another antigen test after 48 hours or opt for a PCR test as soon as possible. If your second antigen test is also negative, wait another 48 hours and test a third time.

Q: Can I use free testing centers instead of ordering at-home tests?

Yes, there are options for free testing at centers within communities across the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services is also distributing free at-home tests to various institutions. However, some individuals prefer the ease and accessibility of at-home testing.

Q: How much do at-home tests usually cost?

According to research conducted by independent organization KFF, at-home tests generally cost between $12 and $24 per pack, with an average of $11 per test.


– KFF: [kff.org](https://kff.org)

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