Updated Nov 20, 2023 - Health

More free COVID tests available to order from government

COVID-19 test on USPS envelope

The U.S. government is mailing out free COVID-19 testing kits. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Americans can order more free COVID-19 tests from the government starting Monday, less than two months after the Biden administration reopened the at-home testing program.

Why it matters: The release of additional tests comes days ahead of Thanksgiving and the busy holiday travel season, which has corresponded with a surge in coronavirus cases in recent years.

The big picture: Since the expiration of the public health emergency in May, many insurers stopped covering the cost of COVID tests. The government's program paused between June and late September.

Meanwhile, fewer Americans are expected to be boosted for the holidays.

Flashback: The at-home COVID test program first launched in January 2022 and initially allowed for four free tests per residential address, regardless of how many lived in a household.

How to order COVID test kits from USPS

What's happening: Starting Nov. 20, households can order four free tests through COVIDTests.gov, which directs people to a U.S. Postal Service site.

  • If you have not placed an order since the program reopened on Sept. 25, you can place two orders for a total of eight tests, the website says.
  • New orders will ship starting the week of Nov. 27, per USPS.

Between the lines: For those who can't order tests through the website, there's also a government hotline for help placing orders, 1-800-232-0233 or TTY 1-888-720-7489.

By the numbers: The Biden administration has distributed over 1.6 billion free tests including more than 800 million tests through the COVID tests website, the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), a department within the Department of Health and Human Services, told Axios.

  • In the program's fifth round of ordering, which opened in September, 58 million tests have been distributed.

COVID test expiration dates

The tests in this new round of ordering will be good through at least March, an ASPR spokesperson told Axios.

The Food & Drug Administration has extended the expiration dates for several over-the-counter COVID tests, adding several months to the "use by" date.

  • A full list of approved COVID-19 tests and their revised expiration dates is posted on the FDA website.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information throughout.

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