US government will relaunch free COVID tests by mail

US government will relaunch free COVID tests by mail

By Jamie Gumbrecht | CNN

The US government will relaunch a program to provide free Covid-19 home tests to Americans, US Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday.

“We will once again begin our program to provide Americans with an opportunity to request tests,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said during an event at a Washington CVS Pharmacy where he was vaccinated against Covid-19 and flu.

US households can order four free tests from Covidtests.gov starting September 25.

The US government has shipped more than 755 million free Covid-19 tests to people who requested them through Covidtests.gov. The program was suspended in May, after the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency, to preserve supply.

Becerra said HHS’s Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response “has been resupplying our stockpile.”

The tests coming available soon are intended for use through the end of 2023 and will include instructions on how to verify extended expiration dates, HHS said in an announcement Wednesday. The expiration dates of many home Covid-19 tests have been extended well beyond what’s printed on the package.

HHS and ASPR also announced $600 million for 12 US Covid-19 test manufacturers to strengthen manufacturing capacity and purchase about 200 million over-the-counter Covid-19 tests for use by the federal government. The funding will go to manufacturers in New Jersey, California, Texas, Washington, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

“The Biden-Harris Administration, in partnership with domestic manufacturers, has made great strides in addressing vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain by reducing our reliance on overseas manufacturing,” Becerra said in a statement. “These critical investments will strengthen our nation’s production levels of domestic at-home COVID-19 rapid tests and help mitigate the spread of the virus.”

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Covid-19 hospitalizations have been on the rise in the United States since July, with weekly admissions now more than triple what they were two months ago. More than 20,500 people in the US were admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 during the week ending September 9, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — about 8% higher than the week before.

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.