The Biden administration is making free at-home Covid testing accessible once more this winter

The Biden administration is making free rapid Covid tests available again this winter as part of a limited round of orders.

Households can now order a total of four rapid Covid tests free of charge from CovidTests.gov. Orders will start shipping next week, just days before families gather for the Christmas holidays, and deliveries will continue in the following weeks, according to the White House.

The Biden administration halted the free at-home Covid testing program in September because Congress failed to approve additional funds to replenish US supplies.

The White House decided to shift existing money to buy more tests and restart the popular program as Covid cases rose again, a senior administration official told reporters during a call Wednesday night.

“We’re confident we’ll have enough tests in the coming weeks to get through this next round, four per household,” the official said.

Take-home COVID-19 self-test kits provided by the District of Columbia government, which is offering city residents four free take-home tests per day, are seen in this photo taken on January 11, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein Reuters

The restart of the free-at-home testing program is part of the Biden administration’s Covid preparedness plan this winter. Covid infections are on the rise again as hospital emergency rooms are already grappling with a spate of patients sick with the flu and respiratory syncytial virus.

The Biden administration will provide federal medical teams to strained hospitals as requested by state governments, the official said. Supplies such as personal protective equipment and ventilators are being prepared in advance to be issued to states when needed, the official said.

The administration is also focused on increasing vaccination rates in care homes and long-term care facilities, which house some of the people most vulnerable to serious illness from Covid.

The federal government will issue a handbook urging nursing homes to keep all residents up to date on the vaccines, offer treatment to residents who contract Covid and take steps to improve indoor air quality, according to a White House fact sheet .

According to the White House, Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra will send a letter to governors highlighting how vaccination rates at nursing homes in their states compare to others. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will also reach out to jurisdictions with the lowest nursing home vaccination rates to remind them of steps they can take to increase coverage.

The federal government is also asking hospitals to offer unvaccinated patients a Covid vaccination before they are discharged.

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