The federal government will suspend online orders for free, at-home COVID-19 tests on Friday, Sept. 2 due to limited supply, according to USA Today.
A senior official with the Biden administration said the tests need to be saved for a potential increase in infections this fall.
The free tests will no longer be available through COVIDTests.gov on Sept. 2 However, tests will continue to be distributed in other ways, including at 15,000 federally supported sites such as community health centers, libraries, and pharmacies.
Many people can also receive reimbursement for tests through private and public health insurance plans, USA Today reported.
The senior official said the Biden administration is working to secure as many additional tests as possible for the fall. However, the official didn’t say how many tests are left in the national stockpile or how many tests the administration is trying to procure.
Earlier this year, the White House asked for up to $22.5 billion in new COVID-19 relief funding to pay for tests, vaccines, treatments, and research. Congress didn’t pass the bill, though Democrats hope to include some emergency coronavirus funding in a package of legislation needed to fund the government after September, USA Today reported.
“Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2 because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests,” a message on the government’s COVID-19 website says.
Under the COVIDTests.gov program, U.S. households were able to place three orders for a total of 16 tests. The federal government has distributed more than 600 million tests through the program since January.
Distribution could “expeditiously resume” if additional funding is approved this fall, the senior administration official told USA Today. Otherwise, the remaining tests in the national stockpile will be saved until coronavirus infections begin to increase again.
COVID-19 cases have steadily declined throughout August after a summer surge due to the contagious BA.5 Omicron variant. About 90,000 new cases are being reported daily, down from more than 130,000 in mid-July, according to the data tracker from The New York Times.
Cases are falling in all but a few states, the newspaper reported. In some states, particularly in the West, cases have dropped by 30% or more in the past two weeks. Cases are up in several states in the South, particularly Tennessee.
Hospitalizations are declining in most states as well. About 38,000 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across the U.S., which has dropped 10% since the beginning of August. About 4,600 patients are in intensive care units, which has also dropped about 7% in the past two weeks.
COVID-19 death numbers have remained flat in recent weeks, with about 480 per day.