WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans can order more free COVID-19 tests online for home delivery.
The U.S. government is proposing to send another round of four home screening tests before the typical surge in cases during the winter holiday period.
The government is sending coronavirus tests by mail flu season starts and a peak in RSV cases has been reported in some parts of the country. Hospitalizations for COVID-19, which has killed more than a million people in the United States, were on the rise this fall but have remained stable in recent weeks. Immunity from vaccinations and previous infections has kept the number of cases lower than in other years.
The new version of free COVID-19 nasal swab tests also comes as the first winter since the start of the pandemic approaches in which insurers are no longer required to cover the cost. On average, at-home tests now cost $11 out of pocket, according to an analysis by the nonprofit health research firm KFF.
The Food and Drug Administration has also approved updated COVID-19 vaccines in September in hopes of strengthening protection for Americans this winter. The shots target a descendant of omicron named XBB.1.5, replacing older vaccines that targeted the original coronavirus strain and a much earlier version of omicron. Injections are recommended for anyone 6 months or older, but adoption has been slow.
American taxpayers have spent tens of billions of dollars developing COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments in the three years since. the pandemic has started.