Federal government to relaunch website for free COVID tests

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — Starting Monday, you can get free COVID tests from the federal government again. The Biden administration is digging into their stockpiles to restart their free test program and paying $600 million to U.S. manufacturers to make more tests.

The website will be back up on Sept. 25 and will allow each American household to order four free tests.

“We think it’s really important to prevent the spread of COVID for people to be able to test to know whether they have it or not,” U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell said.

O’Connell says the tests will come from the federal stockpile that they’ve built up.

The Biden administration is also paying $600 million to various U.S. manufacturers to produce more COVID tests for future use. O’Connell calls it a strategic investment meant to strengthen our own supply chains.

“To have this domestic manufacturing capability and investing our dollars now in that, to have COVID tests when we need them but also to be able to manufacture future tests,” O’Connell said.

But people’s attitudes about the virus have changed, and so have the precautions they are taking.

Dr. Amesh Adalja with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security says that isn’t a surprise.

“As people have risk acclimatized to COVID-19 their urgency to test or to get paxlovid or to get up to date on their vaccines has fallen,” Adalja.

As immunity wanes and people move indoors with the changing seasons, he predicts we could see another COVID uptick.

“The way we make it something that doesn’t disrupt our lives is to use the tools that science and medicine have given us to make our lives easier to navigate in a world where COVID is an ever-present threat.”

Even if there is less public concern, the Biden administration believes their efforts will help reduce the spread

“What’s important to us is that we make the tool available. We think that it’s a critically important arrow that we have in our quiver to protect the American people,” O’Connell said.

When it comes to prevention, Dr. Adalja says convenience does make a difference.

“The easier it is for people to test and to know their status, the easier it is for them to take the correct action,” Adalja said.

He also says the updated COVID booster will be an important tool for fighting the virus, especially for high-risk individuals.

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