Due to rising COVID-19 infection rates, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that as of September 25, 2023, free COVID-19 rapid tests are once again available to the public. In the past, the government shipped over 755 million tests, but the program paused in May of 2023.
At this time, any household may request up to four tests. The tests can be used at home, and the kits come equipped with user instructions. While most test kits should be valid through the end of the year, some tests may display expired dates. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended many tests’ expiration dates.
How to receive the free test kits
Interested individuals can visit covid.gov/tests, and click “Order Free At-Home Tests,” which will redirect to special.usps.com/testkits. From that webpage, individuals must provide contact information and a valid address for shipping. Test kits ship for free beginning October 2, 2023. It’s important to note that any site that asks for more information in order to ship the test kits is a scam.
When to test
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends testing if an individual experiences any COVID-19-like symptoms (i.e., sore throat, congestion, fever, sneezing, coughing, loss of voice, taste, or smell). It is also recommended to test after being in close contact with an infected individual. To be as safe and effective as possible, the CDC recommends taking two COVID-19 tests, one 48 hours after the first negative result.
In an effort to reduce COVID-19 cases, the FDA approved two new COVID-19 vaccines, which are available at many local pharmacies and doctor’s offices. These vaccines are no longer distributed for free so the cost will depend on insurance providers.
As more information is made available, Creative Benefits will provide updates to keep you informed.