Washington – Americans can order more free COVID-19 tests online and receive them at home.
The US government is offering to send out another round of four at-home tests for the virus ahead of the usual surge in cases during the winter season.
Anyone who did not request a four-pack of COVID-19 tests in September can count on up to eight this time starting Monday at COVIDtests.gov. The United States Postal Service will deliver them for free.
The government is sending out tests for the coronavirus at a time when flu season begins and an increase in cases of respiratory syncytial virus is reported in some parts of the country.
Hospitalizations from COVID-19, which has killed more than 1 million people in the United States, were rising this fall but have remained stable in recent weeks. Immunity from vaccinations and previous infections has kept the number of cases below other years.
The new delivery of free COVID-19 nasal swab tests also comes ahead of the first winter since the pandemic began in which insurers are no longer required to cover the cost of them. On average, at-home tests now cost $11, according to an analysis by nonprofit health research firm KFF.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also approved updated COVID-19 vaccines in September in hopes of increasing protection for Americans this winter. The vaccines attack a descendant of omicron called XBB.1.5 and replace older vaccines that attacked the original strain of the coronavirus and a previous version of omicron. Vaccines are recommended for the entire population over 6 months, but their administration has been slow.
U.S. taxpayers have spent tens of billions of dollars to develop COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments in the three years since the pandemic began.