December 10, 2023

COVID-19 home test kits are pictured in a store window during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 19, 2022.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

The Biden administration on Monday said it is offering another round of free at-home Covid tests to U.S. households ahead of the holiday season, when more people gather indoors and the virus typically spreads at higher levels

Starting Monday, Americans can use to request four free tests. Those who have not ordered any tests this fall can now place two orders for a total of eight tests, according to the website.
The administration in September allowed people to request an initial round of four free tests through the site, resuming a federal program that temporarily shut down during a political fight over Covid funding.

At-home tests are a critical tool to protect against the virus, especially now that lab PCR tests — the traditional method of detecting Covid — have become more expensive and less accessible since the government ended the public health emergency in May. 

But demand for tests, along with Covid vaccines and treatments, has plummeted over the last year as cases and public concern about the virus dwindled from earlier in the pandemic. 

Only a small share of Americans appear to be worried about Covid disrupting their holiday plans this fall and winter.

About three in 10 Americans said they are concerned they will get seriously sick from Covid or will spread the virus to people close to them over the holidays, according to a poll released Friday by health policy research organization KFF. 

Less than half were concerned about the potential for another Covid surge during the winter, which has occurred in previous years of the pandemic, the poll said. 

Still, signs of a winter Covid wave are emerging. More than 16,200 Americans were hospitalized in the week ending Nov. 11, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That marks an 8.6% increase from the previous week.

The number of hospitalizations is still lower than the nearly 24,000 recorded during the same time last year.

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