Government to Provide Free, At-Home COVID Tests Again

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Sept. 20, 2023 -- Starting next week, Americans can request four free rapid coronavirus tests, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.

People can order the tests online at beginning Monday. The tests can detect the most recent variants, officials said, and are meant for use through the end of 2023.

The program sent more than 755 million tests to two-thirds of American households, the Department of Health and Human Services says on the website. Some 310 million went to people in underserved communities.

The administration stopped sending free tests in June, after the public health emergency ended in May, The Washington Post reported.

HHS also said Wednesday it is giving $600 million to 12 test makers to improve availability of tests.

“These critical investments will strengthen our nation’s production levels of domestic at-home COVID-19 rapid tests and help mitigate the spread of the virus,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

According to The Post, “Experts say free coronavirus testing proved to be an effective public health tool, allowing people to check their status before attending large gatherings or spending time with older or medically vulnerable people at risk of severe disease even after being vaccinated. It also enables people to start antiviral treatments in the early days of infection to prevent severe disease.”

The virus rose over the summer, with weekly hospital admissions increasing since July. Those topped 20,500 the week of Sept. 9, according to the CDC