Starting Wednesday, Americans can visit a federal website asking for free rapid COVID-19 test kits to be delivered to their homes, according to the White House.
launch covidtests.gov The White House said on Friday that this was to address a nationwide shortage, but each household would be limited to four tests.
Last month, President Biden announced a plan to buy 500 million home tests amid mounting criticism of his administration’s handling of the pandemic and testing has become increasingly difficult. This week, he announced the government would double that number to 1 billion to enable wider testing.
To order the test, Americans will need to provide their name and residential mailing address; shipping will be free. A call line will also be established for those unable to access the site.
Americans should wait after placing their order. The tests are “usually shipped within seven to 12 days” and will be sent via the U.S. Postal Service, officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to stay tested when they develop a COVID-19 system (such as fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches) or as part of a stay-and-test policy in schools and workplaces, or after they have been exposed.
“So five days after they were exposed to someone with COVID-19,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said this week. “And, of course, if you’re going to have a party with family, if you’re going to a party where people are immunocompromised or have elderly people, or you have people who may not have been vaccinated…, this could be an opportunity for you I want to test it.”
From Saturday, private insurers will be required to pay for up to eight rapid tests a month at home.
The government is also expected to announce a scheme to provide free high-quality face masks next week. Public health experts have repeatedly warned that cloth masks do not provide adequate protection against the more contagious variant of Omicron, recommending that people wear N95 or KN95 masks.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the investments will not be late, as some health experts have advised, and that the government has made masks available “on a national scale.”
“We already have 750 million masks in the government stockpile,” she said. “This is to expand and expand the foundation of providing high-quality masks to people across the country.”