Free at-home COVID tests, delivered by mail, ending this week


A nationwide program that allowed residents to order batches of free at-home coronavirus tests through the U.S. Postal Service is coming to an end this week, leaving Californians just days to secure any final shipments.

Suspending the offering, which the website says is “because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile,” will remove one convenient testing option even as federal officials continue to tout its importance and say residents should use multiple kits to screen for coronavirus infection.

The action does not appear to affect a separate program that allows insured people to get reimbursed for a certain number of at-home rapid tests every month.

Using an online portal that launched in January, households were able to have up to three shipments of tests delivered to their homes for free. The rapid antigen tests were self-administered and could deliver results within minutes.

Jha said the administration has prioritized available dollars to secure vaccine doses for the fall and winter, when some experts expect another coronavirus wave could strike.

“Late spring into summer, we saw Germany, we saw the U.K., we saw all of these countries buying vaccines for the fall and winter, and we weren’t even really in negotiations with these companies,” Jha said. “And we said, ‘Well, that’s unacceptable. We’ve got to act.’ So we have taken money from other really important priorities, like having a stockpile of tests and having a stockpile of personal protective equipment, PPE, took those dollars and put them into buying vaccines for the fall and winter because time was running out.”

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