free covid tests

Next Round of Free COVID Test Kits Begins Arriving in Mail. Here's How to Order Yours

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Free COVID test kits have started arriving at many U.S. homes once again after a second round of tests from the government were released earlier this month.

In his State of the Union remarks, President Joe Biden said that in addition to starting a new antiviral initiative, his administration would allow people in the U.S. to order another round of free tests from the government. Many who placed their orders when the tests became available at the start of March have reported receiving their second shipment.

Here's what we know so far.

When Will the New Tests Be Available?

Now. Earlier this month, the Biden administration made available four more free tests to U.S. households.

On March 7, the government's website was updated with a message that read "starting this week, every home in the U.S. will be able to order an additional set of 4 tests."

How Can You Order the Tests?

As with previous orders, the COVID tests are available through COVIDTests.gov, which has sent more than 270 million free tests to nearly 70 million households since it launched in mid-January.

How Many Tests Can You Get?

This latest round will allow each household another set of four tests.

What Else is Coming Up?

Biden used his State of the Union address to announce that his administration was launching a “test-to-treat” initiative to provide free antiviral pills at pharmacies to those who test positive for the virus.

An antiviral pill from Pfizer has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 by 90%. By the end of the month, the administration says, 1 million pills will be available, with double that ready for use in April.

A White House official said the “test-to-treat” plan will initially roll out in hundreds of pharmacies across the country, including CVS, Walgreens, and Kroger locations. Those who test positive at the sites will be able to obtain the antiviral pills on the spot for immediate use.

COVID-19 cases have fallen to their lowest level since last summer in recent weeks, after a winter spike from the highly-transmissible omicron variant. Deaths, though, which lag cases by weeks, are still elevated, with an average of nearly 1,700 people dying in the U.S. each day. U.S. officials emphasize that most instances of serious illnesses and death in the U.S. occur among those who are unvaccinated or who have not received a booster dose of the vaccines.

Earlier Tuesday, Biden extended the federal government’s 100% reimbursement of COVID-19 emergency response costs to states, tribes and territories through July 1, the White House announced Tuesday.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients informed governors on a conference call that Biden is approving the extension of Federal Emergency Management Agency support to help continue FEMA-backed efforts like vaccination clinics, mass testing sites and surging hospital resources to deal with local case spikes.

“FEMA’s priority throughout the response to COVID-19 has been to coordinate and provide the necessary resources and personnel states, tribes and territories need to adequately respond to the pandemic,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said. “Today’s extension of the 100% cost-share through July 1, 2022, builds on our efforts to assist impacted communities across state and federal levels.”

The extension through the first half of the year is a sign that the White House continues to see a need for federal resources in combating COVID-19 even as Biden tries to guide the country to live with the coronavirus while case counts recede.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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