The U.S. government is providing free COVID-19 tests to individuals for home delivery once again, starting Monday. This opportunity is available to anyone who did not order a batch of tests in the previous round, with up to eight tests available per person. Delivery will be provided by the U.S. Postal Service at no charge, just in time for the winter holiday season when cases typically surge.
The distribution of free COVID-19 tests is significant as it comes amidst the flu season and some areas experiencing an increase in RSV cases. Although COVID-19 hospitalizations were on the rise this fall, they have since remained steady. Federal health officials are emphasizing the importance of immunity from previous vaccinations and infections in helping to limit case counts, especially during this time when vaccination uptake has been slow.
This initiative follows the time when insurers are no longer required to cover the cost of at-home tests, which can cost around $11 out of pocket for individuals. In September, the Food and Drug Administration approved updated COVID-19 vaccines targeting the XBB.1.5 descendant of the omicron variant, aimed at enhancing protection during the winter months. Vaccinations are recommended for everyone age 6 months or older but their uptake has been slow nonetheless.
Overall, this move from the U.S government underscores its commitment to combatting the pandemic through investment in testing, vaccines and treatments over billions of dollars over three years