Americans will once again be able to order free COVID-19 tests through the mail after the Biden administration announced last week it would relaunch its free-at-home COVID testing program ahead of a possible surge this winter.
Starting Monday, those interested can head to a government website to order four free COVID-19 tests directly to their home. Each household is allowed up to four tests, intended to be used through the end of 2023.
The tests will be delivered for free by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Shipments are expected to start the week of Oct. 2, USPS said.
These tests will detect the current circulating COVID-19 variants, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said.
While some tests may show “expired” dates on the box, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it extended some of these dates, which can be found on the FDA’s website. The tests shipped to households will also include instructions on how to verify extended expiration dates, according to HHS.
It is not immediately clear how long these tests will be available, though Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, told The Associated Press the website will remain active to receive orders through the holidays and “we reserve the right to keep it open even longer if we’re starting to see an increase in cases.”
This marks the fifth round of free COVID-19 tests to households across the country, with a total of more than 755 million distributed since the program began. The program was suspended at the end of May to preserve the existing supply, but Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said the stockpile has been replenished.
The White House said it will also invest $600 million to purchase 200 million new tests from 12 domestic test manufacturers.
The relaunch of the program comes amid a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since July, though rates remain far below pandemic-era levels.
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