Starting Monday, people can order four tests per US household through Covidtests.gov. People without an internet connection can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to request tests.
COVID-19 rapid tests can be taken at home and can be used regardless of whether someone has symptoms. The tests should be good through the end of the year. Some of the dates on the tests may show that they are expired, but the US Food and Drug Administration has extended those dates.
The US government previously shipped more than 755 million free COVID-19 tests to people who requested them. The program has been suspended since May. COVID hospitalizations have been on the rise in the United States since July, with weekly admissions now more than triple what they were two months ago.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people take a coronavirus test if they have any COVID-19-like symptoms, including a sore throat, runny nose, loss of smell or taste, or a fever. People may also want to test before they are going to be a part of a large event, like a concert or a conference, particularly if they are not up-to-date on their vaccines.
People should also test at least five days after they’ve come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, even if they don’t have symptoms. If a person tests negative, they’re urged to test again 48 hours later.
The Biden administration says it will continue to make additional tests available to people without insurance through thousands of community outreach programs. To find a program with additional free tests from the government, check online at a HRSA health center, Test to Treat site, or ICATT location.
The testing program is reopening as the Biden administration is preparing to ramp up messaging on flu, RSV, and COVID vaccines, including for higher-risk populations such as seniors and young children.