Effective Monday, individuals in the United States can now place orders for free Covid-19 tests from the government. Each US household can request up to four tests by visiting Covidtests.gov. For those who lack internet access, an alternative option is available: they can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to make their test requests.
These at-home Covid-19 rapid tests are designed for use by individuals, whether or not they are experiencing symptoms. These tests are expected to remain valid until the end of the year. It’s worth noting that while some test expiration dates may have passed, the US Food and Drug Administration has granted extensions for these dates.
Previously, the US government had distributed over 755 million free Covid-19 tests to individuals who requested them. However, the program was halted in May. In recent months, the United States has witnessed a surge in Covid hospitalizations, with weekly admissions now exceeding three times the rate from two months ago.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that individuals consider testing if they exhibit any symptoms resembling Covid-19, such as a sore throat, runny nose, loss of smell or taste, or a fever. Additionally, testing before participating in large gatherings, like concerts or conferences, is advisable, especially for individuals who are not fully vaccinated.
Additionally, the CDC advises individuals to undergo testing at least five days after close contact with a Covid-19-positive person, even in the absence of symptoms. If the initial test yields a negative result, a follow-up test is recommended 48 hours later.
Read More: Air Pollution Linked with More Severe Covid-19
The Biden administration has pledged to make extra tests accessible to uninsured individuals through numerous community outreach initiatives. To locate programs offering additional free tests from the government, individuals can refer to online resources such as HRSA health centers, the Test to Treat website, or ICATT locations.
This testing initiative coincides with the Biden administration’s efforts to intensify its messaging about vaccines for Covid-19, flu, and RSV, with a particular focus on higher-risk populations such as seniors and young children.