WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden says the federal government will buy half a billion COVID-19 rapid test kits and distribute them free of charge to people to use at home. But it will still take weeks for these kits to be available to ship, despite the huge public demand for testing. The administration is still working out details on how the program will work.
Does the government have tests?
Not now. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said as of this week, the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services were executing an “expedited emergency contract.” The contract is expected to be signed soon.
When will the test kits be distributed?
The first deliveries are expected in early January. Not all 500 million kits will arrive at the same time, but will be distributed in batches.
My drugstore has no tests. How can I get a free kit from the government?
You’ll go to a new government website to request a kit, Saki said, but the site won’t work until the first batch of test kits have been delivered. He said that the process is being handled in such a way to avoid creating further confusion for the public. But the idea is that anyone who wants the test kit will log on to this website and request it.
“We’re obviously not going to put up the website until tests are available,” Saki said.
Which home test will I get?
It is unclear. But Saki said the US Food and Drug Administration has approved several different brands of rapid home tests that are currently on the market.
Will I be limited to one test or can I request multiple?
To determine, Saki said.
Why is Biden buying these test kits?
It represents an acceptance by the president that the administration needs to do more to increase access to COVID-19 testing, a vital 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 to avoid being outside and potentially spreading the disease.
But as the holidays drew to a close, so did the demand for test kits and people eager to test themselves and their families before traveling could ease weeks into what was to become a major strain in the US. The spreadable Omicron version spread rapidly.
Biden’s promise of 500 million test kits is in addition to the administration’s earlier promise to send 50 million rapid tests to community health centers across the country.
How much will the program cost?
The White House said the purchase would be paid for with money from Biden, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill signed into law in March. The exact price will be known soon.
Is there any other way to get a test kit for free
Biden said in a speech on Tuesday that from January private insurers would cover the cost of at-home testing. People will therefore have the option of purchasing the test in store or online and then seeking reimbursement from their health insurance provider.
Biden said the government would also provide free at-home tests for people who may not have health insurance.