The Biden administration announced Wednesday consumers once again will be able to get four free COVID home tests per household beginning Monday through the government-run website CovidTests.gov.
The reopening of the free test program comes as the Department of Health and Human Services announced it will award $600 million to a dozen domestic COVID-19 test manufacturers to shore up the government’s supply of home tests. The investment will deliver about 200 million new over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, officials said.
During four previous rounds, HHS secured and the Postal Service delivered more than 755 million tests free to households. The program ended at the conclusion of the COVID-19 public health emergency earlier this year. The federal government has continued to ship tests to nursing homes, low-income senior housing, the uninsured and and underserved communities, officials said.
HHS’ Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response announced the contracts will range from $167 million to iHealth in California to $4.5 million to Advin in California. The a dozen test manufacturers employ hundreds of workers in seven states, officials said.
“The Biden-Harris Administration, in partnership with domestic manufacturers, has made great strides in addressing vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain by reducing our reliance on overseas manufacturing,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “These critical investments will strengthen our nation’s production levels of domestic at-home COVID-19 rapid tests and help mitigate the spread of the virus.”HHS officials said the tests will detect the COVID-19 variants now circulating and can be used through the end of 2023.
The Biden administration launched CovidTests in early 2022 as long lines and home test shortages made it difficult for Americans to get checked for the contagious omicron variant, then the dominant strain. The federal government initially purchased 500 million home tests to be mailed to households so people could test themselves at home without a lab.
COVID-19 infections have been rising since early July, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. Hospitalizations are up 7.7% and deaths 4.5% in the past week, but totals remain far below previous peaks.