The Biden administration announced last week that the public would once again be able to request free at-home COVID-19 tests beginning Monday.
The return of the program comes as COVID-19 infections have been on the rise since July, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. While hospitalizations and deaths have risen, totals remain far below previous peaks.
How do I get free COVID-19 tests?
Like when the program was available last, requesting free tests is available beginning Monday through the www.covid.gov/tests webpage. Through the program, Americans can request that four free tests be mailed to them through the United States Postal Service.
All orders within the continental United States will be sent through first class package service. Shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. territories, and overseas military and diplomatic addresses will be sent through priority mail. There is an option for you to provide an email address to receive email notifications with shipping updates.
Why did they stop sending COVD-19 tests?
The Biden administration launched the program in January 2022, and the federal government initially purchased 500 million home tests to be mailed to households so people could test themselves at home without a lab.
However, orders were suspended in June to rebuild test stocks.
The COVIDtests.gov program has distributed over 755 million tests directly to more than two-thirds of American households, 310 million of which went to households in underserved communities, according to information provided by the program.
The return of the free test program comes as the Department of Health and Human Services announced it will award $600 million to a dozen domestic COVID-19 test manufacturers to shore up the government's supply of home tests. The investment will deliver about 200 million new over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, officials told USA Today.
Did my old COVD-19 tests expire?
While your test may appear expired, most COVID-19 home test kits have received expiration extensions from the United States Food and Drug Administration. To see if your test has an expiration extension, see the FDA's list of authorized at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
When should I use my tests?
The CDC recommends that you take an at-home test:
If you begin having COVID-19 symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, or
At least 5 days after you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, or
When you’re going to gather with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Free COVID-19 at-home tests in the mail? Government resumes program