White House Announces Winter COVID Plan

Free home test program is being reinstated
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2022 8:26 AM CST
White House Announces Winter COVID Plan
"Orders for this round of testing will begin to ship starting the week of December 19th," the White House said.   (Getty Images/Aleksei Bezrukov)

With COVID cases rising yet again, the federal government is bringing back its program to mail free home test kits on request. "In the absence of Congress providing additional funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response, the Administration has acted with its limited existing funding to add more at-home COVID-19 tests to the nation’s stockpile," the White House said in a fact sheet on its "COVID-19 Winter Preparedness Plan" released Thursday. The White House said every American household is eligible to receive four free tests; they can be ordered here. People on health insurance plans and on Medicare can still receive eight free tests a month, and free tests are still available at thousands of locations including schools and community health centers, the White House said.

The White House said tests will be distributed to food banks and senior facilities as part of the winter plan. Vaccination programs will also be stepped up. The administration paused the partnership with the US Postal Service in September, citing concerns about funding and the limited supply of tests, Politico reports. Around 600 million tests were delivered after the program was launched in January. An administration official told the New York Times Wednesday that the latest round of tests is being paid for with funds from last year's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. The administration has asked for $9 billion in additional funding for its COVID response as part of the year-end funding bill, but Republicans are strongly opposed, Politico notes.

"While COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it once was, the virus continues to evolve, and cases are on the rise again as families are spending more time indoors and gathering for the holidays," the White House said Thursday. COVID cases have risen by around 55% over the last two weeks, officials say, and due to at-home testing, many cases are not being logged. Hospitalizations are also rising, and COVID deaths are up 65% over the last two weeks, per the Times. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, 2,716 COVID deaths were recorded in the US over the last week. (More COVID-19 stories.)

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