The U.S. government is reactivating the program that mails free COVID-19 tests to Americans’ homes upon request.
Effective Sept. 25, households will be able to order four free tests online through COVIDTests.gov.
These tests, which can detect the new COVID variants currently circulating, are intended for use through the end of the year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
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The announcement was posted on the HHS website on Wednesday.
The Biden administration will invest $600 million into efforts to manufacture and deliver COVID tests, the release stated.
“These critical investments in U.S. manufacturing will improve preparedness for COVID-19 and other pandemic threats of the future, strengthen the nation’s capacity to manufacture tests, and secure approximately 200 million new over-the-counter COVID-19 tests for future federal government use,” the release said.
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“Manufacturing COVID-19 tests in the United States strengthens our preparedness for the upcoming fall and winter seasons, reduces our reliance on other countries and provides good jobs to hardworking Americans,” said Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, in the release.
“ASPR’s investments in these domestic manufacturers will increase availability of tests in the future.”
Free tests were previously available during the public health emergency until it expired this past spring.
The relaunch of the program comes as COVID cases and hospitalizations have risen in recent weeks.
COVID-related hospitalizations reached 20,538 for the week of Sept. 3 to Sept. 9, an increase of 7.7%.
This is still far lower than the previous high of 44,414 the week of Jan. 7, 2023.
“The U.S. government will continue to make COVID-19 tests available to uninsured individuals and underserved communities through existing outreach programs.”
The program has previously distributed more than 755 million tests to more than two-thirds of American households, according to the test-ordering website.
“The U.S. government will continue to make COVID-19 tests available to uninsured individuals and underserved communities through existing outreach programs,” the website stated.
Last month, federal officials mentioned there was a large number of stockpiled tests, noting that they had been sending them to health centers, assisted living facilities and other locations with vulnerable populations.
Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, said he thinks it’s “a good idea” to resume distribution of the free tests because many can’t afford to buy them.
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“There is a treatment strategy where the earlier I diagnose COVID, the earlier I can begin Paxlovid in high-risk groups — those with chronic diseases and the elderly,” he told Fox News Digital.
Paxlovid decreases the risk of a severe course of the disease, and there is little resistance among the strains, the doctor noted.
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“Increased availability of rapid tests also can help people know to isolate when they have it or to test and be cautious if they come in close contact with COVID,” Siegel added.
“We need more rapid test availability to manage the increasing number of cases.”
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