You can now order a third round of free COVID tests in the US

In this photo illustration, free iHealth COVID-19 antigen rapid tests from the federal government sit on a U.S. Postal Service envelope after being delivered on February 04, 2022 in San Anselmo, California.
In this photo illustration, free iHealth COVID-19 antigen rapid tests from the federal government sit on a U.S. Postal Service envelope after being delivered on February 04, 2022 in San Anselmo, California. Photo credit (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

American households can now order eight additional free at-home COVID-19 tests, the third round of free tests made available by the U.S. government.
With this new round, the federal government has offered up to 16 total free tests per household.

“As the highly transmissible subvariants of omicron drive a rise in cases in parts of the country, free and accessible tests will help slow the spread of the virus,” said a statement from the White House.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new COVID-19 cases have been on an upward trend since April, along with hospital admission trends. As of Tuesday, the daily average of new cases was 94,199, the daily average of hospitalizations was 3,013 and close to 83% of the U.S. population had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine.

Last January – shortly after the first COVID-19 vaccines became available – the Biden Administration began investing to increase COVID test access in the nation.

“COVID-19 testing is a critical tool to help mitigate the spread of the virus, which is why maintaining domestic testing capacity is an essential component of the President’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan,” the White House explained.

At the start of this year President Joe Biden “committed to making one billion at-home tests available to the American people for free, including half-a-billion available for ordering at COVIDTests.gov,” said the White House.

Since January, 70 million households have visited COVIDTests.gov to order at-home tests, which are mailed directly to Americans’ homes. By Tuesday, the Biden administration had mailed 350 million free tests to U.S. homes and to people in U.S. territories and overseas military bases.

The third round of tests made available this week were purchased by the federal government earlier this year with funding from the American Rescue Plan.

Those interested can order their free tests here. These tests are rapid antigen at-home tests, not PCR tests. They can be taken anywhere and they give results within 30 minutes, with no lab drop-off required. Rapid antigen tests should work whether or not the person taking the test has COVID-19 symptoms or whether they are up to date on vaccination.

The White House said most tests should be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service within 48 hours of shipping. Anyone who may not have access to the internet or who needs additional support placing an order can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).

“Due to Congress’s failure to provide additional funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response, the Administration cannot continue making the types of federal investments needed to sustain domestic testing manufacturing capacity,” said the administration Tuesday. Without additional funding, the “federal government’s ability to provide free tests moving forward,” is jeopardized, it said.

Other options for testing include free testing sites, eight insurance-reimbursed tests per month for people with health insurance through an employer or Marketplace, and tests available for purchase at drug stores.

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