The Biden administration is giving out free COVID-19 test kits to households for a third time, with the U.S. Postal Service delivering eight free rapid antigen tests to any household throughout the country.
Tests can be ordered via the COVIDtests.gov website, which appeared active on Monday with the new offer. The results can be obtained within 30 minutes and can be taken anywhere.
According to the website, people should only take an at-home test if “you begin having COVID-19 symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, or at least 5 days after you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19, or when you’re going to gather with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be.”
The first round of free tests was distributed in January and February, with citizens getting four tests per household. In March, a second round of distribution gave four more free tests. The current distribution of eight tests per household takes the total number of tests offered per household since the program began to 16.
President Joe Biden had committed to making one billion at-home tests available to American citizens for free in January, including 500 million made available via the COVIDtests.gov website.
Since then, 350 million free tests have been delivered, according to a May 17 White House fact sheet. More than 70 million households have ordered at-home tests via the website.
The current third round of tests has been purchased by the federal government using funding secured from the American Rescue Plan.
Biden’s administration blamed Congress for failing to provide additional funding for the COVID-19 response, warning that it might jeopardize the federal government’s ability to offer free tests in the future.
“As the highly transmissible subvariants of Omicron drive a rise in cases in parts of the country, free and accessible tests will help slow the spread of the virus,” said the fact sheet. Most tests ordered via the website are delivered by the U.S. Postal Service within 48 hours of shipping.
The program has been criticized since a sizable portion of the test kits were sourced from California-based iHealth Labs, which is a subsidiary of Chinese medical gear manufacturer Andon Health.
Since December 2021, both federal and state governments combined have given over $2.1 billion worth of contracts to the company. Even the Department of Defense has awarded contracts to the firm.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) called the involvement of a Chinese company in COVID-19 test kits a “national security” as well as a “national health security” issue.
“The fact that the United States is mass distributing Chinese-manufactured COVID-19 tests further highlights the need to bring back U.S. manufacturing for critical industries,” Wenstrup told The Epoch Times.
The third round of free tests comes as COVID-19 cases in the United States have surged in recent weeks. The 7-day moving average of cases hit 90,337 on May 15, up from below 25,000 on March 29, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 tracker.
The 7-day average of hospital admissions with confirmed COVID-19 was 2,698 through May 14, up 8.3 percent from the week prior. Deaths linked to COVID-19 remain low, with just 40 counted on May 15. Most COVID-19 cases don’t require hospital care or lead to death.