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Federal Government Brings Back Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests

As hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are back up in the United States, the government is reviving the program that gave people free at-home test kits.

At an event at a Washington D.C. CVS on Wednesday (September 20th) promoting the updated COVID-19 booster shot, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that every household in the country could request four free at-home COVID test kits beginning on Monday, September 25th. Those seeking tests can request them through COVID.gov, the department’s website.

In addition to restarting the program, the HHS also announced that it would invest $600 million to purchase test kits from a dozen domestic manufacturers. The amount of purchased kits estimated would be 200 million. “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,” Becerra said in a statement afterward.

The revival of the program comes as there has been a noticeable spike in the number of hospital admissions and deaths related to a new variant of COVID-19 known as EG.5 that has been on the rise over the last few weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data that said that admissions rose by 7.7 in the week of September 3rd to the 9th to 20,358. Deaths over that same period increased up to 2.3 percent.

The program had been halted in May as the Biden administration declared an end to the public health emergency that was in place. There was a previous stoppage last summer as the Omicron variant was prevalent, with the government citing a lack of funding at the time. More than 600 million test kits were distributed before the first stoppage.

Tests that citizens will receive once the program starts again will be good for use until the end of 2023. The HHS also has instructed those curious about the expiration dates to check a website detailing which test kits had extended expiration

dates.

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