Dec 15, 2022 - Health
Free at-home COVID tests program revived
The White House is relaunching its COVID-19 home testing program on Thursday as part of preparations for a wintertime surge of cases.
The big picture: The administration suspended the program in September after distributing more than 600 million tests, in order to ensure there would be enough tests to meet future needs.
- Officials reopened the website COVIDTests.gov on Thursday for a limited round of ordering.
- Households can obtain four free at-home tests, which will be mailed for free starting the week of Dec. 19.
Driving the news: COVID cases are rising across the country, driven by new strains capable of thwarting immune defenses.
- With mandates largely out of the picture, the administration is pushing out more free tests by mail and to schools, community health centers and long-term care facilities.
- Its "winter preparedness plan" also envisions working with states to increase sluggish vaccination rates, including with pop up or mobile vaccination sites.
- The administration also is pre-positioning masks and other protective gear and making contingencies if health systems become overwhelmed and need help with staffing.
- An administration official expressed confidence there is enough of the antiviral Paxlovid on hand for the forseeable future. The government already has distributed about 6 million doses of Pfizer's pill.
Of note: The administration redistributed funding left from the American Rescue Plan to buy more at-home tests, the official said.
- Some states and local governments continue to offer free tests but others have suspended purchases.