The Biden administration launched its program to provide free, at-home COVID-19 test kits from the government and now they are also planning to give away 400 million N95 masks. This will be the biggest deployment of personal protective equipment in US history, a White House official told CNN. The masks will be available at pharmacies and local community centers starting next week and the program to distribute them should be fully up and running by early February. Masks will be limited to three per person. So far, there is no word on whether kid-sized masks will be available.
In the meantime, every household is able to order four tests and they will be shipped in about 7-12 days. In late 2021, President Biden announced his administration would be buying 500 million at-home tests to give every US household for free. Now, according to a statement from the White House, the administration has upped that number to 1 billion test kits.
At-home COVID tests have been difficult to come by as the highly contagious Omicron variant increased and people tried to get tested.
People can visit https://www.covidtests.gov/ to order their free at-home tests. This reporter tried the link and successfully placed an order. “COVID-19 tests will start shipping in late January. USPS will only send one set of 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests to valid residential addresses,” read a message. For those unable to access the web, the Biden Administration says it will be launching a free call line to help people get access to the test kits.
“We’re taking a number of steps to ensure this program reaches our hardest-hit and highest-risk communities,” a senior administration official said. “This includes working with national and local organizations with deep experience serving communities of color, people with disabilities, and other high-risk communities to serve as navigators who will raise awareness about this program and help people submit their requests for tests.”
There are even more options in addition to this program for Americans to get tested. “There are now over 20,000 free testing sites across the nation, including four times as many pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy free testing program as there were in January 2021, as well as federal surge free testing sites, with more free testing sites opening each week,” said the statement. “Millions of free, at-home COVID-19 tests have been delivered to thousands of community health centers and rural health clinics to distribute to their patients, with more delivered each week. In addition, the Administration provided schools $10 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to get tests to K-12 school districts. And, the Administration invested nearly $6 billion in ARP funding to cover free testing for uninsured individuals, and support testing in correctional facilities, shelters for people experiencing homelessness, and mental health facilities.”
As of January 15, private health insurance companies are required to cover the cost of at-home COVID testing.