Last month, President Joe Biden announced that the federal government will purchase half a billion COVID-19 rapid test kits and distribute them free of charge to people to use at home. But despite high public demand for the tests, it will take several more weeks before these kits are available for shipping, White House officials said.
IS A TEST GOVERNMENT?
Not yet. This week ended an initial bidding period for test makers to apply to Defense and Health and Human Services Departments for test contracts. The first contract, totaling $ 51.6 million, was awarded Thursday, with additional contracts to be signed in the coming weeks, officials said. All 500 million kits will not arrive at the same time. They will be shipped in batches over several months.
WHEN WILL THE TEST KITS BE DELIVERED?
The federal government is expected to receive the first batch of tests “within the next week or so,” according to White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zientes. Americans will start receiving them “in the coming weeks,” he added.
THERE ARE NO TESTS IN MY PHARMACY. HOW CAN I GET A FREE GOVERNMENT KIT?
You will be directed to the new government website to request a kit, but the site will not function until the first batch of test kits has been delivered to the government. “Obviously, we are not going to launch the website until tests are available,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said last month.
The Postal Service will handle the execution and delivery of tests to Americans’ doorstep, officials said.
WHAT HOME TEST WILL I GET?
Dont clear. But Psaki noted that the FDA has approved several different brands of rapid home tests that are currently on the market. While they are packaged differently and may use slightly different procedures, their detection mechanisms and effectiveness are broadly the same, officials said.
WILL I BE LIMITED TO ONE TEST OR CAN I REQUEST MORE?
Be specific. Officials are also working on a policy on how often people can request a free test. This is expected to stem from a renewed emphasis on educating Americans about best practices when they should take a test.
WHY IS BAIDEN BUYING THESE TEST KITS?
This represents the President’s recognition that the administration needs to do more to expand access to COVID-19 testing, which is an important tool to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In cases where infected people show symptoms or not, testing is the only way to find out if they have the virus so they can avoid leaving the house and potentially spreading the disease.
Demand for test kits skyrocketed as the holidays approached and people were eager to test themselves and their families before travel, and as the highly transmissible omicron variant quickly spread in just a few weeks and became the dominant strain in the United States.
Biden’s pledge to provide 500 million test kits is in addition to the administration’s earlier pledge to send 50 million rapid tests to community health centers across the country.
HOW MUCH DOES THE PROGRAM COST?
The purchase will be paid for with funds from the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill that Biden signed into law in March, the White House said. The exact cost will be announced shortly.
IS THERE ANOTHER WAY TO GET THE TEST KIT FOR FREE?
From January 15th, private insurance companies will have to cover the cost of testing at home in the same way they cover the cost of laboratory PCR tests. People will have the option to buy tests from a store or online and then get reimbursed from their health insurance company. Those with or without public health insurance through Medicare or Medicaid will be redirected to the upcoming website for ordering tests or to local health centers offering free testing.
WILL IT BE HARDER FOR ME TO FIND A TEST AT A PHARMACY DUE TO THE STATE PROGRAM?
White House officials say government tests are being conducted at new manufacturing facilities and should not interfere with existing supplies relied on by pharmacies, clinics and state governments.
“These are additional tests,” Zientes said, made possible by the FDA authorizing many new tests over the past few months. “So we have a lot more room for rapid tests.”