Health

More Free Home COVID Tests Available for Potential Winter Surges

The Biden administration is once again making several free COVID-19 tests available to all U.S. households as it unveiled its plans for possible coronavirus spikes this winter.

After a three-month hiatus, the administration is making four rapid virus tests available through covidtests.gov starting Thursday, according to a senior administration official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the program. COVID-19 cases showed notable growth after the Thanksgiving holiday, and further growth is projected due to indoor gatherings and travel over Christmas and New Year’s.

The administration is putting personnel and equipment on standby in case they are needed to help overburdened hospitals and nursing homes, as was necessary during previous waves of the virus. So far, there have been no requests for help, the official said, but rescue teams, ventilators and personal protective equipment are ready.

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The Biden administration is also urging states and local governments to do more to encourage people to get updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, which scientists say are more effective at protecting against serious illness and death from currently circulating options. The administration is replicating best practices in nursing homes and long-term care facilities for the prevention and treatment of the virus and is calling on administrators as well as governments to encourage vulnerable populations to get new shots.

The planning comes as the administration has struggled to convince most Americans to get upgraded boosters as cases and deaths have declined from pandemic peak levels and most people have embraced a return to most of their pre-pandemic activities.

The official said funding for new tests has been reallocated from other virus programs as the White House struggles to get congressional support for additional emergency COVID-19 funding. The official declined to say how much is being spent on new tests or from which programs they were rejected.

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