Free at-home COVID-19 tests are now available again for all Americans — and amid this winter’s doozy of a “tripledemic,” we need every tool at our disposal to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe. Here’s how to get your free testing kits.
Earlier this week, the Biden administration re-upped its free COVID-19 testing kit program. For the second year in a row, every household in America can now order a total of four free rapid tests via COVIDTests.gov. Note that the program stipulates four tests per household, not individual, so if you live with roommates, a partner, or children, you may want to procure extra testing kits to tide you through the winter.
Orders will begin to ship next week, hopefully arriving in time for people who are traveling or gathering with high-risk family members for the holidays to test themselves beforehand.
Earlier this year, the White House announced it would be ending the free COVID-19 testing kit program, citing a lack of funding from Congress. However, federal officials were recently able to shift funds around and finance a relaunch of the popular campaign, according to CNBC.
“We feel confident that we are going to have enough tests to get through this next round, four per household, in the coming weeks,” a senior official from the Biden administration told reporters in a press conference earlier this week.
This news couldn’t come at a better time. Doctors and hospitals throughout the United States are currently battling simultaneous outbreaks of three contagious respiratory illnesses: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the flu, and COVID-19. All three viruses can cause severe illness in certain high-risk patients, including very young infants, immunocompromised children, and elderly people. Since these viruses affect the respiratory system, very ill patients may require hospitalization to help them breathe.
The “unprecedented” RSV outbreak emerged first, arriving ahead of schedule and putting a serious strain on pediatric hospitals and pharmaceutical supply chains nationwide. Fortunately, RSV cases appear to have peaked in many parts of the country. But the 2022–2023 flu season is already looking unusually severe, with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warning of an “especially worrisome” winter to come. And of course, this is all occurring in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Consider this your periodic reminder to prioritize your family’s health this holiday season. That means getting your annual flu shot and the new bivalent COVID-19 booster, both of which are safe, effective, and recommended by the CDC for everyone 6 months and older. It also means staying on top of any symptoms of respiratory illness in your household, including coughing, runny nose, fever, or fatigue.
And while you’re at it, consider wearing a well-fitting, effective face mask. We are talking about respiratory viruses, after all.
If someone in your family falls ill, skip the festivities and get them tested for all three viral illnesses instead. RSV, the flu, and COVID-19 present with similar symptoms, so it can be difficult to distinguish between them, but an accurate diagnosis will help determine the best course of treatment.
Before you go, read up on these natural products to help ease your child’s cold symptoms: