Online orders for free at-home COVID tests to begin Jan. 19

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click to enlarge An at-home COVID-19 test. - stocksre/ Shutterstock
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An at-home COVID-19 test.

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Friday launched a new website for Americans to request up to four free COVID-19 tests per household.

The administration is buying 1 billion at-home rapid COVID-19 tests, and Americans will be able to begin ordering the tests online on Jan. 19 at COVIDtests.gov.

This is part of the administration’s effort to curb the spike of the omicron coronavirus variant that has overwhelmed hospitals and schools.

Tests should ship via the U.S. Postal Service between seven and 12 days after they are ordered, senior administration officials said on a call with reporters.

“Testing is a critical tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” a senior administration official said.

The White House said tests should be used by individuals who begin to have COVID-19 symptoms; after five days of coming into close contact with someone with COVID-19; or if gathering indoors with someone who is at risk for a severe disease or is unvaccinated. Children 4 and under are not eligible for vaccines.

The initial 500 million tests are expected to cost $4 billion, a senior administration official said.

The Biden administration also announced that starting Monday, private insurance providers will cover the cost of up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests per person per month.

On Thursday, Biden said that in addition to free tests, Americans would also get free, high-quality masks.

The administration also aims to make sure members of some communities the hardest hit by COVID-19 will have a hotline they can access if they do not have internet access or have difficulty ordering tests online. The number to call for help is not available yet.

Officials also urged Americans to seek out free testing centers on their own. There are about 20,000 free testing sites across the country.

On Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer encouraged Michiganders to access the eight free at-home COVID-19 tests that the federal government will require private insurance companies to cover monthly as of Jan. 15.

“We will continue working with our federal partners to ensure that COVID-19 testing is more accessible and less expensive for every Michigander,” Whitmer said in a prepared statement.

The push to increase access to COVID-19 testing comes after months of surging cases and hospitalizations in Michigan.

Originally published January 14, 2022 on Michigan Advance. It is shared here with permission.

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