Starting Monday, Americans can now order additional free Covid-19 tests from the federal government following an announcement by the Biden administration of additional funding. With $600 million allocated to the program that was temporarily suspended in May, the government aims to make testing more accessible and convenient for the public.
To place an order, individuals can visit the website Covidtests.gov, where they will be prompted to provide basic information including their name and address. Each order will include four rapid tests, and there is a limit of one order per residential address. The U.S. Postal Service will handle the delivery of the tests at no cost to the recipients, making it a hassle-free process.
In an effort to reduce unnecessary waste, the government advises individuals not to discard any “expired tests” before checking if the expiration dates have been extended. To verify the status of their tests, visitors can utilize the same website, Covidtests.gov. There they will find a link to a specific page where they can enter their details and check if the expiration dates have been extended through late 2023 or 2024.
The Health and Human Services Department has provided funding to twelve manufacturers across seven states to produce 200 million over-the-counter tests. These tests will help replenish federal stockpiles and fulfill mail-order requests efficiently.
This initiative to offer more free tests aligns with the rise in Covid hospitalizations. Wastewater testing has provided evidence that Covid infections have been on the rise in recent weeks. Therefore, it is crucial that the public remains vigilant and proactive in taking preventive measures.
While some individuals might want to believe that the Covid-19 pandemic is over, it is important to acknowledge that the virus is still present and circulating. Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, warned that cases are expected to increase as we move into the fall and winter seasons.
By expanding access to free Covid-19 tests, the Biden administration hopes to empower individuals to stay informed about their health status and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others.
Federal Government’s Distribution of Covid Tests
The federal government has taken significant steps to combat the Covid-19 pandemic by distributing over 1.2 billion free Covid tests. This distribution includes sending 755 million tests directly to over two-thirds of U.S. households, providing more than 250 million tests to nursing homes, and delivering over 140 million tests to Kindergarten through 12th grade schools and historically black colleges and universities. These efforts have been initiated by the White House to ensure widespread access to Covid testing across the nation.
Updated Covid-19 Shots Available at Pharmacies
Pharmacies have started administering updated Covid-19 shots manufactured by Moderna (MRNA) and Pfizer (PFE). To determine the availability of doses, individuals can visit the Vaccines.gov website, send a text with their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233. These updated vaccines have been specifically designed to target currently circulating variants and offer enhanced protection against hospitalization and severe illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these vaccines for individuals aged six months and older.
Challenges in Obtaining Vaccinations
While the vaccination efforts have been commendable, some individuals have faced challenges in getting their shots. These challenges include limited availability of appointments due to supply backups and insurance companies refusing to cover the cost of vaccinations. To address these concerns, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has pledged to collaborate with insurers and pharmacies to resolve these issues swiftly.
President Biden Sets an Example
Setting an example for the nation, President Biden received his updated Covid vaccine along with his annual flu shot on Friday, as confirmed by the White House. As the cold and flu season approaches, President Biden encourages all Americans to follow suit and consult their healthcare providers or pharmacists to ensure they are fully vaccinated against both Covid-19 and the flu.