US Government to Suspend Free At-Home Covid-19 Test Program
The federal government is stopping its free at-home Covid-19 test program this week due to a lack of funds and measures to maintain supply before an anticipated fall rise in cases, according to reports. a stockpile of the tests is running low, and officials want to have enough on hand in case of a fall surge, the source said. The program, which has offered up to 16 free tests per home since the start of the year, was not given more funds by Congress, according to both the White House and the website where consumers may claim their tests.
The Covid.gov website states, “ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2…,”citing Congress’ decision not to allocate sufficient cash to refill the country’s stockpile of tests.
In January, amid a surge in Omicron variant cases and limited testing options, the administration started the program where test kits were distributed free of charge to individuals who requested them at Covidtests.gov via the United States Postal Service. However, officials have been warning for months that the administration would be forced to scale up its Covid-19 response efforts in the absence of more financing from Congress.
The president’s main medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has stated that he thinks Covid-19 will be a seasonal occurrence, similar to the flu. Through its Covid-19 test website, the federal government has disseminated an estimated 600 million tests. When the demand for the omicron variety peaked in January, it first began sending the free testing. It was unclear right first how many were still in the stockpile.
The White House requested an additional $22.5 billion in financing from Congress for Covid relief efforts in March, stating that without it, it would be impossible to maintain testing capacity. However, the funds, which the Biden administration also wanted to utilize for research and therapies, were not approved due to a deadlock.
However, the source stated that if and when Congress appropriates extra cash, the administration will “expeditiously resume distribution of free exams through COVIDTests.gov,” but it was rendered best to conserve the remaining tests for distribution later in the year.