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Free COVID Test Program Paused by Government

National

Free iHealth COVID-19 rapid tests from the federal government on a U.S. Postal Service envelope | Image by Getty Images

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Due to a lack of funding, the federal government is suspending its program that sent free COVID-19 testing kits to Americans.

“Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2, because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests,” the ordering website advises.

The program is still accepting orders before September 2.

President Joe Biden committed in January to making 500 million tests available to Americans through covidtests.gov. By last May, the White House said 350 million tests had been given away to 70 million households, more than half of the households in the U.S.

Initially, each U.S. household could make only one order of the rapid antigen tests. The Biden administration later announced a second and then third round of orders were available, using funding from the American Rescue Plan. This allowed up to 16 tests per household.

The program is coming to an end for now.

The Biden administration in March requested an additional $22.5 billion from Congress to buy vaccines and therapeutics to prepare for a possible spike in COVID-19 cases this fall. Lawmakers did not pass the bill due to its high cost.

Before the announcement, a senior administration official anonymously told USA TODAY that the program could resume if Congress provided funding. Still, remaining tests would otherwise be kept in reserve as officials prepare for the potential fall spike.

The official said the administration will use its “limited existing resources” to secure as many additional tests as possible.

The CDC recommends testing for COVID-19 right away if showing symptoms. If you’re exposed to the virus but don’t show symptoms, the agency recommends waiting five days for a more accurate result.

Free COVID-19 testing is also available through community testing sites and insurance reimbursement.

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