You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

U.S residents can order free at-home COVID test kits from feds starting Jan. 19

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 1/14/2022 Tim Balk

They’ve tested Americans’ patience.

After weeks of national test shortages generated by the omicron coronavirus strain’s challenging reign, the U.S. government said it will open orders for free at-home rapid tests next Wednesday.

The Biden administration said that an initial round of 500 million tests will be on offer, and that the swabs will typically ship 7 to 12 days after they are ordered.

The time frame, announced Friday, suggests that the tests may arrive after the peak of the nation’s omicron wave. Case counts have already started to mercifully descend across the Northeast.

Healthcare worker grabs two at-home COVID-19 test kits to be handed out during a distribution event. © David Dermer Healthcare worker grabs two at-home COVID-19 test kits to be handed out during a distribution event.

Healthcare worker grabs two at-home COVID-19 test kits to be handed out during a distribution event. (David Dermer/)

But the free swabs still figure to offer help and peace of mind as Americans manage life with the fast-spreading variant. The portal can be reached at https://www.covidtests.gov/.

“The tests will be completely free—there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number,” said a note on the website. “Ordering begins January 19.”

The White House said it will also establish a help call line to assist people who struggle to use the website.

The administration did not immediately provide a number for the call line, or a time on Wednesday when the portal will start taking orders.

Individual residences will be limited to four tests, according to the government.

President Biden said Thursday he was ordering another 500 million at-home tests to supplement the half-billion that will be available next week.


Video: Nursing Homes To Receive COVID Test Kits As Part Of State's Plan To Distribute 1 Million (CBS Miami)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Biden first pledged the government would get its paws on 500 million tests shortly before Christmas, when Americans were scouring pharmacy websites and shelling out gobs of cash for precious nasal swabs.

Starting Saturday, health insurers will also be required to cover costs from up to eight at-home tests per person each month, according to the government.

On Friday, the Biden administration boasted that its pandemic efforts have led to a proliferation of at-home test kits on the market. Nine are now available, the administration said.

Biden has faced criticism over a flat-footed response to omicron, which has lifted case counts to levels unseen over the previous 22 pandemic-marred months.

Unvaccinated Americans have flooded overwhelmed and understaffed hospital wards, and daily national death tallies ticked toward 2,000 this week.

The country’s overall pandemic death toll has now eclipsed 840,000 — a figure larger than the combined populations of St. Louis and Atlanta.

And more than eight times as many infected Americans are dying daily than were in early July, when the U.S. seemed on the cusp of putting COVID to bed.

“I know we’re all frustrated as we enter this new year,” Biden said in a brief speech on Thursday. “The omicron variant is causing millions of cases and record hospitalizations.”

Still, health officials are hoping that the omicron wave will give way to a far more normal spring, and research has indicated that omicron infections grant immunity to other mutant coronavirus variants.

“While I cannot tell you when COVID-19 will end, I can tell you this: When we do succeed, it will be because family chose to protect family,” Dr. Mary Bassett, the New York State health commissioner, said in a Daily News opinion piece published Friday, calling on New Yorkers to get their shots and wear masks.

Biden noted Thursday that infected Americans who are vaccinated enjoy robust protection against severe outcomes from the breakthrough-prone omicron strain.

Infected Americans who are not immunized are 17 times more likely to land in a hospital than those who have gotten shots, Biden said.

“As long as we have tens of millions of people who will not get vaccinated, we’re going to have full hospitals and needless deaths,” the president said. “So, the single most important thing to determine your outcome in this pandemic is getting vaccinated.”

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from New York Daily News

New York Daily News
New York Daily News
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon