The Biden administration is supplying taxpayer-funded COVID-19 tests to American households as part of its “winter preparedness plan.”
The administration first launched the program in January, but paused it in September, citing a request for additional funding that was stalled in Congress. Officials said the decision was made to “ensure we have a limited supply of tests available in the fall” in the event of a surge.
When Biden first launched the program, he pledged to make one billion “free” tests available to Americans. By the time the site was shut down, about 600 million tests had been ordered.
Now, American households can request up to four at-home COVID tests from the federal government at no charge through COVIDtests.gov. The first tests are scheduled to be shipped by USPS this week.
During a Wednesday call with reporters, a senior administration official said, “Procurements are ongoing and so I can’t give you exact numbers on how this is going to land, but we feel confident that we are going to have enough tests to get through this round, four per household, in the coming weeks.”
“We’re able to reopen COVIDtests.gov for a limited round because, in the absence of congressional funding, we’ve acted within our limited resources to buy more at-home tests for our national stockpile,” the spokesperson said, adding that the tests were paid for by American Rescue Plan.
Taxpayer-funded tests will also be supplied to federally subsidized food banks and housing for seniors. The official said the new round of tests is an addition to other no-charge testing initiatives launched earlier that are still available, such as the federal requirement that private health insurers cover eight tests per month.
“We know what to do in this moment,” the spokesperson said. “We have the tools and infrastructure and know how we need to effectively manage this time to prevent hospitalizations and deaths, minimize disruptions and respond to challenges. Everyone just has to do their part.”
The official said the Biden administration will encourage governors to launch more COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites, and if necessary, the federal government will send medical personnel to assist in hospitals.