US to suspend free Covid-19 at-home test orders next week

In January, President Joe Biden had pledged to procure 1 billion free tests for Americans



Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

By Reuters

Published: Tue 30 Aug 2022, 8:38 AM

Starting next week, Americans will no longer be able to order free at-home Covid-19 tests from a website set up by the US government, due to limited supply arising from a lack of congressional funding.

The COVIDTests.gov website, set up during the Omicron variant record surge in cases, helped US households take Covid-19 tests at no cost.

In January, President Joe Biden had pledged to procure 1 billion free tests for Americans, including 500 million available through the website. However, ordering through the program will be suspended on September 2.

The reason for this is because "Congress has not provided the COVID-19 funding we need to replenish the nation's stockpile of tests", said a senior administration official.

The government will no longer take orders through this program to ensure that some tests are still available in the fall, in case there is a rise in infections, the official said.

"We have already distributed over 600 million tests through this program, and every household has had the opportunity to place three orders, for a total of 16 tests," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, at a briefing.

Alternative ways of getting at-home tests will remain, the official said, including getting them reimbursed by private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, which collectively cover over 92 per cent of Americans.

The government will continue to distribute free tests directly to long-term care facilities, schools, child care and early learning centres, community health centres, and food banks. The government will also keep supporting around 15,000 free testing sites in pharmacies and libraries.

"If Congress provides funding, we will expeditiously resume distribution of free tests through COVIDTests.gov," the official said.

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