The Biden administration has announced another round of free at-home COVID tests for U.S. households in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season when indoor gatherings often contribute to increased virus transmission. From Monday, Americans can request four free tests per household through COVIDtests.gov. Individuals who haven’t ordered tests this fall can now place two orders, receiving a total of eight tests.
This initiative follows the administration’s decision in September to enable people to request an initial round of four free tests via the site, restarting a federal program that temporarily ceased due to a political dispute over COVID funding.
Given the rising costs and reduced accessibility of traditional lab PCR tests for detecting COVID-19 since the end of the public health emergency in May, at-home tests have become a crucial tool in combating the virus.
Despite a decline in demand for tests, COVID-19 vaccines, and treatments over the past year as cases diminished, at-home testing remains vital. The public’s concern about the virus disrupting holiday plans appears limited, with only 3 in 10 Americans expressing worries about getting seriously sick from COVID-19 or spreading the virus during the holidays, according to a recent poll by health policy research organization KFF. Less than half were concerned about the potential for another Covid surge during the winter.
However, signs of a winter COVID wave are emerging, as indicated by more than 16,200 Americans being hospitalized by the last weekend, representing an 8.6% increase from the previous week, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
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