Starting Monday, Americans can now order additional free Covid-19 tests from the federal government. The Biden administration has allocated an additional $600 million to resume the program, which was temporarily suspended in May.
To place an order, individuals can visit the website Covidtests.gov. The website will prompt visitors to enter some basic information like their name and address. Each order includes four rapid tests, and there is a limit of one order per residential address. Delivery of the tests will be handled by the U.S. Postal Service at no cost to the recipient.
In an effort to avoid wastage, the government is urging people not to dispose of any current “expired tests” immediately. Instead, individuals are encouraged to check if the expiration dates on their tests have been extended. The same website, Covidtests.gov, provides a link to a site where users can look up their old tests and verify if the expiration dates have been extended until late 2023 or 2024.
Furthermore, the Health and Human Services Department has funded twelve U.S. manufacturers located across seven states. These manufacturers will produce 200 million over-the-counter tests to replenish federal stockpiles and fulfill mail-order requests.
As the number of Covid hospitalizations continues to rise, the Biden administration recognizes the need for increased access to testing. Wastewater testing has revealed evidence of a recent surge in Covid infections.
While many may wish to put the pandemic behind them, it is important to remember that the virus is still present and circulating in our communities. Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, cautions that cases are likely to increase during the fall and winter seasons.
Federal Covid Testing Efforts
The federal government has made significant efforts to distribute free Covid tests to combat the ongoing pandemic in the United States. In total, over 1.2 billion tests have been distributed, with direct shipments to two-thirds of U.S. households, nursing homes, and educational institutions.
According to the White House, a staggering 755 million tests were sent directly to two-thirds of U.S. households. Additionally, more than 250 million tests were distributed to nursing homes, and over 140 million tests were provided to kindergarten through 12th grade schools and historically black colleges and universities.
Updated Covid-19 Shots from Pharmacies
Leading pharmacies such as CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Rite Aid are now administering updated Covid-19 shots. These vaccines, developed by Moderna and Pfizer, target currently circulating variants and offer improved protection against hospitalization and severe illness.
To find available doses, individuals can visit the Vaccines.gov website, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233. These channels provide easy access to information on vaccine availability.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the updated vaccines for individuals of all ages, starting from six months and older. This expansive recommendation ensures that a wide range of people can benefit from the vaccines’ protective effects.
Despite the progress made in vaccine distribution, some individuals have encountered difficulties in getting vaccinated. These challenges include limited appointment availability due to supply backups and issues related to insurance coverage.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has assured the public that his agency is actively working with insurers and pharmacies to address these problems. Efforts are underway to ensure that everyone has access to the Covid vaccines they need.
President Biden Sets an Example
President Joe Biden recently received the updated Covid vaccine and his annual flu shot. The White House encourages all Americans to follow his example and consult with their healthcare providers or pharmacists to ensure that they are fully vaccinated.
Let’s stay safe and prioritize our health during this cold and flu season.