Just in time for winter virus season, the U.S. government is once again shipping free at-home COVID-19 tests to American households through the U.S. mail.
Each household can order four free tests on the website covidtests.gov or by calling 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489). If you skipped out on ordering a round of tests earlier this fall, you can now place a double order for eight free tests.
The news comes at the start of the holiday season, when more people will be traveling and spending time indoors with others. It also comes amid an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, which serves as a reminder that the virus is still with us. More than 16,200 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 last week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Testing is especially important for older adults
Are Your Tests Expired?
Has it been a while since you tapped into your supply of COVID-19 tests? You’ll want to check their expiration dates.
You can find the expiration date printed on the outer box or package. Some of these dates, however, have been extended, and you can find the extended expiration dates listed on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.
Experts say rapid, easy-to-use tests are key to avoiding a wave of illness this winter. For one thing, testing can help cut down on virus transmission. “We know how to avoid spreading [COVID-19] to people,” David Montefiori, director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development at Duke University Medical Center, said in a news briefing this fall. “You still want to avoid being in public and being around other people so that they don’t get it.”
The CDC recommends isolating from others for at least five days if you have COVID-19.