Every family in the US has the right to order up to eight free Covid tests this winter to prevent spreading the virus to their loved ones.
Families were offered four tests per household at the end of September, but this has now been expanded to include an additional four swabs – worth $12 per pack.
The tests — provided through a $600 million grant to testing providers — can be ordered online at CovidTests.gov and will take at least two weeks to arrive.
They’ll be offered ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, but the update comes too late for Thanksgiving – as orders must already be placed to guarantee the swabs will arrive.
Covid cases are currently on the rise again, with wastewater monitoring showing a five per cent increase in the concentration of Covid particles in the week ending November 8. Flu cases are also on the rise, with numbers rising 60 percent in the week ending November 12. the latest version available.
Families were offered four tests per household at the end of September, but an additional four are now being offered. So far, around one in ten households has ordered the tests
The above shows estimates of Covid cases according to wastewater monitoring. It shows that cases are increasing again
The above shows flu cases in the US and shows that these are also increasing
A total of 14.5 million households have ordered free Covid tests so far, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told DailyMail.com.
Dawn O’Connell, the head of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), which has helped with the Covid response, said: “We will see families with older and younger relatives coming together.” [later this year].
“It is important that they can protect their loved ones from Covid as the winter months begin.”
“So we’re thinking about opening.” [CovidTests.Gov] “It will be very important for the American people to restore this access to the four free tests just before the start of the winter holidays.”
She added: “We know testing will be good over the next few months. [but] They won’t be good forever.
“That’s why we think it’s important that we go ahead and put them in the hands of the American people so they can use them and protect themselves as we head into winter.”
The Biden administration has invested $600 million in local testing companies that will produce an estimated 200 million swabs.
The tests are rapid antigen tests in which a swab is inserted into the nose and mouth and then mixed with a solution to provide results within 30 minutes.
Online orders take seven to 12 days to ship, the website says, and then take several more days to reach homes.
Some of the swabs delivered may say they are past their expiration date, ASPR said, but they pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved an extension of their shelf life.
Covid tests are also available at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, although one test costs $10 and two costs $23.99.
The tests offered can only detect Covid and not other seasonal threats such as the flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
The $600 million was invested in twelve domestic manufacturers and is leftover money from the last Covid law passed in Congress.
Congress managed to claw back $30 billion in unspent aid after Biden and Republicans struck a deal to raise the debt ceiling. However, officials said there was still enough left to spend on further testing.
CovidTests.gov first opened in January 2022 to distribute 500 million tests to households, each of which can order four swabs.
Official data shows the Covid positivity rate – or the proportion of tests that detect the virus – is no longer falling. This suggests that infections could increase again
And this graph shows how the number of people hospitalized with flu begins to rise as winter approaches
This map shows flu activity by state. It shows activity is highest in Louisiana and Puerto Rico
It was started again in December 2022, with households again being allowed to order four tests each – and restarted for the third time in September this year.
Wastewater monitoring reported by Biobot suggests that Covid cases are increasing, with the virus concentration increasing from 425 to 444 copies per milliliter (ml) of wastewater.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests cases may be increasing, with the positivity rate remaining at eight percent for two weeks through the week ending November 11.
Covid hospitalizations are also increasing, with admissions reaching 16,000 in the week ending November 11, compared to almost 15,000 the previous week. However, this is still well below the 24,000 recorded at the same time last year.
CDC data also suggests an increase in flu infections In the week ending November 12, 3,002 were registered – 60 percent more than in the same period the previous week.
According to CDC experts, this number is a significant undercount because most people who get the flu don’t get tested or their infection goes unreported.
Covid vaccines have also been made available to everyone aged six months and older to prevent infections, although officials say only those over 75 need the jabs.
The latest data through early November shows that of more than 329 million eligible people, 36 million adults have received the vaccine, including 3.5 million children.
By comparison, an estimated 91 million Americans – or 34 percent of the adult population – have voted to get the flu shot.
And 11 million people over 60, or 13 percent of the age group, have come forward to be vaccinated against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection.