Government to Provide Free COVID Tests Again Starting Next Week. The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that, starting next week, people will once again be able to request four free COVID-19 tests per household from the government.
Easy Online Access via COVIDTests.gov
The Department of Health and Human Services stated that they are reopening their website, COVIDTests.gov, on September 25th. This means you can order COVID test kits, and they will be delivered to your doorstep, absolutely free of charge.
Addressing the Rising COVID Cases
This announcement comes as the United States faces a surge in COVID cases, leaving many concerned about the availability of tests. The new order for test kits will be a relief, but it’s essential to check the expiration dates on these tests once they arrive, as there were reports last year of people receiving tests with close expiration dates.
A Boost for COVID Testing
The relaunch of the free COVID test program was made possible through a $600 million investment in 12 domestic test kit manufacturers. According to Dan O’Connell, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, “The preparation of COVID-19 tests for the upcoming fall and winter seasons strengthens our preparedness in the United States, reduces our reliance on other countries, and provides good jobs for hardworking Americans.”
When to Get Tested?
Health experts and disease control centers recommend immediate testing if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within five days. The Biden administration had initially started sending free COVID tests to households in January 2022 amid the Omicron surge. The program was brought back for the winter season.
Online Access Until Year’s End
COVIDTests.gov will remain accessible online until the end of the year.
Prioritizing Public Health
The Biden administration emphasized the importance of these tests in monitoring and controlling the spread of COVID-19, but PCR tests, the traditional method of COVID-19 detection, have become relatively more expensive and less accessible to some Americans since the end of the public health emergency in May.
Private Insurance and Free Testing
It’s essential to note that federal guidelines advise against disposing of expired home test kits. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded the expiration dates of many home test kits, some of which are still good for several months to a year beyond their original dates.
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Rise in COVID-19 Cases Spurs Increased Testing Demand
The availability of coronavirus testing has seen a surge, driven by last week’s unfortunate loss of 35 lives to COVID-19 in Texas. According to state figures, over 1,500 Texans were hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the past week. National statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate an upward trend in hospitalizations and COVID-related fatalities across the country.
Updated Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines Now Accessible
Recently updated Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are now available. These vaccines are better equipped to combat the widespread Omicron variants. The CDC recommends individuals aged six months and older, particularly those above six months, to receive the latest COVID-19 shots.
Encouraging a Vaccination Plan
Chris Van Deusen, the spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services, suggests that, just like everyone is encouraged to get a flu shot each year, people should plan to get updated COVID-19 vaccines.
“The virus evolves over time,” says Van Deusen. “This new version of the vaccine closely matches the specific strains of COVID-19 we’ve been seeing circulating for the past several months.”
Vaccine Dosage for Different Age Groups
Individuals aged five and older who have previously received a vaccine will require only one dosage of the new vaccine. However, for those who are vaccine-hesitant or have strong immune systems, multiple doses might be necessary.
Delay in Vaccination for COVID-19 Infections
In cases of recent COVID-19 infections, the CDC recommends a delay in vaccination for up to three months.
Vaccine Dosing for Children
As per the CDC website, children between four months and four years old who have not received a prior vaccine may require two to three doses, depending on the vaccine they receive. Children under five years old who have already been vaccinated may still require more than one dose.
Health Insurance Coverage for Updated Vaccines
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of updated COVID-19 vaccines.
Accessing Vaccines Without Health Insurance
For those without health insurance or with plans that don’t fully cover the cost, local health centers, community care providers, or federal financial assistance programs like the CDC’s Vaccines for Children Program can help provide free vaccines.
The U.S. Health Department to Restart Free COVID-19 Home Testing Program
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that the U.S. government will relaunch a program to provide free COVID-19 home testing kits to Americans.
Four Free Tests Available from September 25 for American Households
Starting from September 25, American households can order up to four free tests from Covidtest.gov.
Over 755 Million Free COVID-19 Tests Sent by the U.S. Government
The U.S. government has already sent over 755 million free COVID-19 tests to those who requested them through Covidtest.gov. To maintain the supply, the program was suspended in May after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Becerra stated that HHS’s administration and the response team are “replenishing our stock.”
Test Expiry Date Extended Until the End of 2023
HHS announced on Wednesday that the soon-to-be-available tests are set for use until the end of 2023, and instructions regarding the expiration dates of the extended shelf-life tests will be included in the package. This extends the expiration dates of many at-home COVID-19 tests beyond what’s printed on the package.
Boosting Manufacturing Capacity with $600 Million Investment
HHS and the ASPR are making a $600 million investment for approximately 200 million over-the-counter COVID-19 tests to strengthen manufacturing capacity and reduce reliance on foreign production. This funding will go to manufacturers in New Jersey, California, Texas, Washington, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
Becerra noted in a statement, “The Biden-Harris Administration has made significant strides in partnership with domestic manufacturers, reducing our dependence on foreign supply chains to bolster the production of rapid COVID-19 tests at the household level. This important investment will strengthen our nation’s domestic production capacity for fast-moving tests and help curb the spread of the virus.”
Hospitalizations on the Rise in the United States
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are on the rise in the United States, with weekly admissions now nearly three times higher than they were two months ago, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During the week ending on September 9, more than 20,500 individuals were admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 in the United States, which is almost an 8% increase compared to the previous week. Feel free to use this translated content in a friendly tone for your purposes. Ensure accuracy and clarity when conveying this information to your audience.
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