Looking for an at-home COVID-19 test? With omicron cases surging all over the world, it can be difficult to casually pick up the best COVID-19 test possible to ensure you aren’t infected. Right now, you can sign up for four free at-home tests through USPS, but they won’t start shipping until later this month. If you need a COVID-19 test sooner than that, unfortunately, your options are somewhat limited.
But limited doesn’t mean nonexistent, and based on our research and experience in tracking tests down we’ve assembled some quick tips to help you secure a test much sooner. Depending on where you live, you may even be able to mask up and go out to get one today.
How to get free tests, and reimbursements for tests you’ve already bought
Effective Jan. 18, the Biden administration made it possible for every home in the US to order four COVID-19 tests for free and have them shipped to your home. The order page is here, and the tests are expected to ship toward the end of this month, so may not arrive until early February.
If you need more than four tests between now and the rest of the pandemic, there’s a good chance you will need to order more. As of January 15th those tests are either covered by your insurance or available for reimbursement. That reimbursement is for $12 of the test, which could mean you will need to pay the difference depending on what test you buy and from where. You can find the full breakdown of how the insurance coverage and reimbursement process works here.
Retailers with online restocks happening frequently
If you feel like you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and want to order online to avoid being in a store, there are a handful of retailers with reliable online restocks with quick delivery options you can check. The three most frequently available based on our tracking are Walmart, Walgreens and Target. BinaxNOW Antigen Rapid Self-Test At Home Kit: $24 at Walgreens
On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test: $30 at Walmart On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test: $30 at Roman Everlywell At-Home Lab Test Kit: $109 at Everlywell Let’s Get Checked at-home lab test kit: $109 at Let’s Get Checked
Note: Use promo code CNET30 during checkout at Let’s Get Checked for 30% off your order.
Check your local health departments
While the Biden administration invited Americans to place an order on a new website and have at-home tests delivered to your front door, there are many cities around the US currently offering free tests to pick up. To see if your area is one of these places, all you need to do is look for your local department of health. Many places are posting on social media accounts dedicated to your local health agency with where and when you can pick up a test for yourself.
There are frequently rules associated with these municipal pick-up areas, like how many can be picked up at a time or confirmation that you live in the area, but these restrictions are often clearly outlined by your local health department before you arrive.
Check pharmacies for local restocks
Depending on where you live, many pharmacies receive weekly or even daily restocks of at-home COVID-19 tests. The reason you haven’t frequently seen these tests on shelves at your local store is there are a lot of people who line up at these stores before they open or when a shipment truck arrives to buy these tests immediately. There’s no nice way to put this — many of the stores that offer at-home tests are already overloaded and understaffed, and they can’t put things on hold for you.
If you can’t get tests delivered to your home in a timely manner, and you can’t find a free municipal restock, this is your best option: Some pharmacies, like Walgreens, will tell you online if there are local stores with stock available right now. If there’s no in-store stock listing for your local pharmacy online, you may need to call. If you go this route, please be patient. The people working at your local pharmacy are doing their best and need your kindness.
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