Advance Notice: Briefs

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

By: and - January 14, 2022 4:37 pm

COVID-19 home tests | Susan J. Demas

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.

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Ariana Figueroa
Ariana Figueroa

Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance.

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Anna Gustafson
Anna Gustafson

Anna Gustafson is the assistant editor at Michigan Advance, where her beats include economic justice, health care and immigration. Previously the founder of the Muskegon Times and the editor at Rapid Growth Media in Grand Rapids, Anna has worked as an editor and reporter for news outlets across the country. She began her journalism career reporting on state politics in Wisconsin and has gone on to cover government, racial justice and immigration reform in New York City, education in Connecticut, the environment in Wyoming, and more. Previously, Anna lived in Argentina and Morocco, and, when she’s not working, she’s often trying to perfect the empanada and couscous recipes she fell in love with in these countries. You’ll likely also find her working on her century-old home in downtown Lansing, writing that ever-elusive novel and hiking throughout Michigan.

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