Politics|U.S. Government to Begin Accepting Requests for Free Covid Tests Next Week
The tests volition instrumentality up to 12 days to arrive, which whitethorn beryllium aft the highest of the existent surge of cases successful immoderate parts of the country.
Jan. 14, 2022, 7:40 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON — Americans volition beryllium capable to petition escaped accelerated coronavirus tests from the national authorities opening connected Wednesday, but the tests volition instrumentality 7 to 12 days to arrive, elder Biden medication officials said connected Friday.
The administration’s website to process the requests, covidtests.gov, was up and moving connected Friday, the latest motion of its efforts to ramp up entree to investigating since the fast-spreading Omicron variant sent coronavirus lawsuit counts soaring.
But the hold successful accepting orders and the lag successful shipping mean that radical are improbable to person the escaped tests until the extremity of January astatine the earliest. In immoderate parts of the country, that whitethorn beryllium aft the highest of the existent surge of cases.
President Biden said past month that his medication would acquisition 500 cardinal accelerated at-home coronavirus tests and administer them to Americans escaped of charge. On Thursday, he announced plans to bargain an further 500 cardinal tests, bringing the full to 1 billion. The medication has already contracted for 420 cardinal tests.
Each household volition beryllium constricted to 4 escaped tests. The Postal Service volition grip shipping and transportation done first-class mail, the officials said. Free tests volition besides beryllium disposable astatine immoderate assemblage wellness centers, agrarian clinics and national investigating sites.
Separately, radical with backstage security should beryllium capable to commencement seeking reimbursement for tests they acquisition themselves opening connected Saturday, less than a week aft the medication announced the caller rule. Insurers volition beryllium required to screen 8 at-home tests per idiosyncratic per month.
The medication is besides creating incentives to promote insurers to enactment with pharmacies and different retailers truthful radical tin beryllium reimbursed astatine the clip of purchase, arsenic is often the lawsuit with medicine drugs. But immoderate insurers accidental it volition probably instrumentality weeks to afloat acceptable up the strategy the White House envisions.
Expanding investigating capableness is 1 of a bid of steps the Biden medication has taken to measurement up its effect to the Omicron variant, which arrived successful the United States soon aft Thanksgiving and has pushed hospitals to the brink of being overwhelmed successful astatine slightest 2 twelve states. On Thursday, Mr. Biden announced that helium was sending subject aesculapian unit to six states to bring alleviation to overwhelmed infirmary workers.
The White House has faced harsh disapproval for failing to person capable tests earlier the Omicron surge. Some nationalist wellness experts person been calling for months for the authorities to marque amended usage of coronavirus tests arsenic a mode to power the dispersed of the virus, and to make a guaranteed marketplace for diagnostics by purchasing them straight from manufacturers.
One of those critics, Dr. Mara Aspinall, an adept successful biomedical diagnostics astatine Arizona State University, called the president’s caller moves to grow investigating “an important measurement forward,” and an indispensable acknowledgment of the value of investigating arsenic a mitigation strategy.
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“You’ve got to springiness them recognition for getting this done successful little than a month,” she said, portion noting that the seven-to-12-day clip framework “is not ideal.”
Testing has been a situation for the national authorities since the earliest days of the pandemic. Supply concatenation shortages made them hard to travel by, and overloaded laboratories took days to process them. Mr. Biden, who came into bureau promising to ramp up testing, has made immoderate advancement successful expanding the proviso of accelerated at-home tests. There were nary disposable to American consumers erstwhile helium took office.
But the Omicron question has put aggravated pressure connected the nation’s investigating capacity. At-home tests began flying disconnected pharmacy shelves and are present scarce successful galore parts of the country. At the aforesaid time, immoderate consumers are confused astir however to usage them.
Administration officials sought to wide up immoderate of that disorder connected Friday, specifying 3 reasons radical should usage at-home tests: They statesman to person symptoms of Covid-19; they were exposed to idiosyncratic who tested affirmative for the microorganism 5 oregon much days earlier; oregon they are readying to stitchery indoors with idiosyncratic astatine hazard of Covid-19, and privation to guarantee themselves they are negative.
Beyond constricted availability, outgo has been a large obstruction successful entree to at-home tests. They are expensive: astir $12 each, oregon $24 for a bundle of two.
The medication has pledged to guarantee equitable organisation of the tests. A White House information expanse said the authorities would spot a precocious precedence connected getting tests to “households experiencing the highest societal vulnerability and successful communities that person experienced a disproportionate stock of Covid-19 cases and deaths.”