Every household in the country can now order a third round of free at-home COVID tests as the highly transmissible omicron subvariants fuel a spike in virus cases.
The Biden White House has announced that people can get an additional eight free rapid antigen tests — bringing the total number of free tests available to each household since the start of the program to 16 tests.
“Good news, folks: You can order another round of free COVID-19 tests shipped right to your door,” President Biden tweeted on Tuesday.
Virus cases have been quickly rising as the omicron subvariants BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 spread across the country. In Massachusetts, reported daily infection tallies are now about fivefold the counts from two months ago, and COVID hospitalizations have surpassed 800 total patients for the first time in three months.
“As the highly transmissible subvariants of omicron drive a rise in cases in parts of the country, free and accessible tests will help slow the spread of the virus,” the Biden White House said in a statement.
To date, the administration has distributed about 350 million free tests across the country, in U.S. territories and at overseas military bases, with most tests delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. The third round of tests were purchased by the federal government earlier this year with funding from the American Rescue Plan. The ability to send out future rounds of tests hinges on funding that’s not in place yet.
“Due to Congress’s failure to provide additional funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response, the Administration cannot continue making the types of federal investments needed to sustain domestic testing manufacturing capacity, and this may jeopardize the federal government’s ability to provide free tests moving forward,” the Biden White House said.
“Today’s announcement underscores the Administration’s commitment to doing everything in our power to ensure the American people have the lifesaving tools they need — so they are prepared for whatever comes,” the administration added. “Congress must step up and act as well.”
Each order now includes eight rapid antigen COVID tests. The order of eight tests will come in two separate packages, each with its own tracking number. Packages will ship for free.
To order a round of tests, visit COVIDTests.gov. People are able to quickly sign up in less than a minute by filling out their name and address.