A national program that allowed residents to order batches of free at-home coronavirus tests through the US Postal Service is coming to an end this week, leaving Californians just days to secure final shipments.
Suspending the offering, that the COVID.gov The website says “because Congress has not provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpiles,” it will remove a convenient testing option even as federal officials continue to tout its importance and say residents must use multiple kits to detect coronavirus infection.
The action does not appear to affect a separate program that allows policyholders to get reimbursed for a certain number of rapid tests at home each month.
Using an online portal that launched in January, households were able to have up to three shipments of tests delivered to their homes for free. The rapid antigen tests were self-administered and could provide results in a matter of minutes.
Submission of a first round of four tests began in January, followed by a second tranche of four tests in March and a third of eight tests in May.
Orders through the program will be suspended Friday, according to the federal website, but residents who haven’t reached their family allowance limit can still place orders until then at special.usps.com/testkits or by calling (800) 232-0233. The TTY number is (888) 720-7489.
In their place this week, the US Postal Service said that households that have already placed two orders can place a third, which will contain eight tests.
Households that had previously placed a single order can place two more that will contain a total of 16 additional tests. Those who have not yet used the program can place three separate orders for a total of 24 tests.
The Biden administration has previously warned that in the absence of additional funding from Congress, some efforts to combat COVID-19 may need to be scaled back or stopped.
“We went to Congress in the spring and said, ‘Look, we need resources to make sure we have enough vaccines and therapeutics for the fall and winter.’ Unfortunately, Congress didn’t get the funding,” Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said. during a forum with the US Chamber of Commerce this month.
Jha said the administration has prioritized available dollars to secure vaccine doses for the fall and winter, when some experts expect another wave of coronavirus could hit.
“From late spring to summer, we saw Germany, we saw the UK, we saw all these countries buying vaccines for the fall and winter, and we weren’t even really in negotiations with these companies,” Jha said. “And we said, ‘Well, that’s unacceptable. We have to act. So we’ve taken money from other really important priorities, like having a testing stockpile and having a personal protective equipment stockpile, PPE, we’ve taken those dollars and put them into buying vaccines for the fall and winter because time is I was finishing”.
The US is also preparing for the next phase of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, which could begin as early as next month and include new booster shots designed specifically to combat the super-infectious BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants. from Omicron. coronavirus family.
Even with this particular federal program offline for now, there are still ways for Californians to verify their coronavirus status. Home kits are widely available for purchase and select pharmacy chains, including CVS, helping ritual other Walgreen’s — continue to offer trial services.
Some communities and health centers also continue to operate trial clinics. To find locations near you, visit myturn.ca.gov/testing.
Additionally, those with health insurance can purchase over-the-counter diagnostic tests at little or no cost, with the charge covered directly at the point of sale or eligible for reimbursement at a later date. For more information on that process, visit cms.gov/how-to-get-your-home-OTC-COVID-19-test-for-free and check with your insurer.
Each person who has health insurance can be reimbursed by their insurer for up to eight tests per month. (Because some test kits have two tests per box, this equates to four boxes per month per person covered by the insurance plan.)
This means that each month, a family of four can have 32 tests done at no cost, with the cost reimbursed by their insurer. Individuals may have to submit documents to request reimbursement.