US households now have access to additional four free Covid-19 tests for at-home use, courtesy of the government. Beginning Monday, individuals can place orders for four individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests through Covidtests.gov, with shipment starting from November 27, as confirmed by the United States Postal Service (USPS). In case of no internet access, individuals can also request tests by calling 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).
Previously suspended in May, the rapid test distribution program was reinstated in September. Residents who haven’t yet placed an order since the reopening of the program can now place two orders, receiving a total of eight tests in total, according to USPS.
The Covid-19 rapid tests can be self-administered at home, regardless of symptoms. Although some test kits may display expiry dates, the US Food and Drug Administration has extended their validity. These tests are crucial in identifying Covid-19-like symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, loss of smell or taste, fever, or any situation where individuals anticipate attending crowded events or gatherings. Additionally, testing helps determine necessary antivirals for treating both Covid-19 and flu infections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a recent increase in both Covid-19 hospital admissions and emergency department visits. The percentage of Covid-related emergency visits, as of November 11, reached 1.4%, with over 16,200 individuals seeking medical care. This data is consistent with patterns witnessed over the past few months. While outpatient flu-like illness visits have decreased compared to last year, they remain higher than previous seasons. CDC projections suggest the current respiratory virus season will lead to a comparable number of hospitalizations as the previous season.
Additionally, flu activity is escalating across various regions in the country, with high flu-like activity reported in New Mexico, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina. As of now, the CDC has estimated around 780,000 flu cases, resulting in 8,000 hospitalizations and 490 deaths for the current flu season.
Data from the CDC shows that more than a third of adults and nearly a third of children have received their flu shot this year. Furthermore, approximately 14% of adults and 5% of children are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 14% of older adults aged 60 and above have also received the RSV vaccine.
– United States Postal Service (USPS): https://www.usps.com/
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/