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US authorities fast-track distribution of free COVID-19 test kits ahead of holiday season

A rapid Covid-19 test kit is displayed after being given out for free to people receiving their Covid-19 vaccines or boosters at Union Station in Los Angeles, California, on January 7, 2022.Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

In response to rising concerns about a potential surge in infections, US authorities, as reported by Reuters, are expediting the distribution of free COVID-19 test kits ahead of major holidays this year. Commencing on November 20, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will initiate this effort.

Accordingly, households that previously ordered four free test kits via COVIDTests.gov in the last supply round in September will now have the opportunity to place an order for an additional four kits. The maximum number of free testing kits per household, encompassing all distribution rounds, remains at four.

To address the heightened risk of infections during the holiday season, spanning from Thanksgiving on November 23 to New Year's Eve, the US government is intensifying the distribution of free testing kits. This proactive measure aims to counteract potential increases in infections associated with elevated public transportation usage and gatherings in enclosed spaces during this period.

According to the most recent data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the weekly hospitalization count for COVID-19 surpassed 16,000 on November 11, marking an increase from the nearly 15,000 reported the previous week. However, it's important to note that this figure remains lower than the nearly 24,000 cases recorded at the same time last year.

Regrettably, due to budgetary constraints, the program initiated by the administration of US President Joe Biden, which provided free testing, was suspended in August 2022. This program was launched in January of the same year.

The authorities reinstated the program when infections surged sharply in December 2022, and registration for free testing remained open until September 25 of this year. The funds allocated for these complimentary testing kits are sourced from the COVID-19 supplemental budget within the "American Rescue Plan" program.

An HHS spokesperson reported that President Biden's administration has supplied more than 1.6 billion free tests. This total encompasses tests delivered to individuals' homes through online orders and distributions to long-term care facilities, schools, community health centers, and food banks.


As per Reuters, HHS and the US Department of Education are strategizing to extend the program by distributing testing kits to schools nationwide in the forthcoming weeks.

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