Federal government relaunches free, at-home Covid-19 tests, to be available Monday, Sept. 25, for up to 4 tests per household

Kentucky Health News

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is providing $600 million to make new at-home tests for Covid-19 and relaunch the program that allows Americans to order up to four free tests per household through the mail.

The Department of Health and Human Services says in a news release that orders can be placed at COVIDTests.gov starting Sept. 25. The tests will be delivered for free by mail.

“These tests will detect the currently circulating COVID-19 variants, are intended for use through the end of 2023, and will include clear instructions on how to verify extended expiration dates,” says the release.

The funding will go to 12 manufacturers in seven states that will produce 200 million new over-the-counter Covid-19 tests.

“Manufacturing Covid-19 tests in the United States strengthens our preparedness for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, reduces our reliance on other countries, and provides good jobs to hardworking Americans,” Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell said in the release. The Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response’s “investments in these domestic manufacturers will increase availability of tests in the future.”

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra added that this investment will address “vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain by reducing our reliance on overseas manufacturing” and will “help mitigate the spread of the virus.”

The initiative follows four previous rounds of free tests where federal officials and the U.S. Postal Service provided more than 755 million tests for free to homes nationwide.

Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have been on the rise in Kentucky and the U.S. since July, though the numbers are far below where they were during the peak of the pandemic.

Kentucky had 54 Covid hospital admissions per 100,000 residents in the last seven days and 10 reported deaths during the week of Sept. 3 to Sept. 9, according to The New York Times Covid-19 tracker, which uses Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

O’Connell told Will Weissert of The Associated Press that home testing remains a key way to slow the spread of new cases.

“Whether or not people are done with it, we know the virus is there, we know that it’s circulating. We know, if past is prologue, it’ll circulate to a higher degree and spread, and cases will go up in the fall and winter seasons,” O’Connell said. “Anticipating that that would be true again, or something similar, we want to make sure the American people have these tools.”

O’Connell told Weissert that the website is scheduled to receive orders through the holidays, but could stay open longer if there is an increase in cases. “At this point, our focus is getting through the holidays and making sure folks can take a test if they’re going to see Grandma for Thanksgiving,” she said.

Weissert reports, “It is also meant to complement ongoing federal efforts to provide free Covid tests to long-term care facilities, schools, low-income senior housing, uninsured individuals and underserved communities which are already distributing 4 million per week and have distributed 500 million tests to date, the department said.”
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