STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — If you have not ordered all 16 of your free at-home coronavirus (COVID-19) tests, courtesy of the U.S. government, now is a great time to stock up, as cases surge due to the BA.5 omicron variant.
The variant is the most contagious to date — accounting for 81.9% of cases in the United States during the week ending July 23, which is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) most recent data.
President Joe Biden’s administration introduced a program to ship free coronavirus at-home rapid tests to American homes in January as part of his COVID-19 winter plan. At the time there was a limit of one order — containing four tests — per household.
The program was expanded in March, making a second order of four tests available, and then again in May for an additional eight tests, which brought the total number of free rapid antigen tests available to each household since the start of the program to 16.
Rapid antigen tests can be self-administered. Results are available within 15 to 30 minutes.
Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again Saturday, slightly more than three days after he was cleared to exit coronavirus isolation, the White House said, in a rare case of “rebound” following treatment with an anti-viral drug.
Tests typically ship within seven to 14 days of ordering, according to the website. All orders within the continental United States will be sent through First Class Package Service. Shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. Territories and overseas military and diplomatic addresses (APO/FPO/DPO) will be sent through Priority Mail.
Once your order is shipped, you will receive an email with an estimated delivery date and a tracking number. You can track the status of your delivery on USPS.com.
People who have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional support placing an order can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish and more than 150 other languages from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. For more information, visit https://www.covid.gov/tests/faq.
People are encouraged to use the tests if they’re experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, like a cough or fever. And they are also encouraged to test a few days after being in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
They should also test before attending large gatherings, the CDC recommends.