COVID-19 cases are on the rise, and if you want to be armed with testing to combat a possible fall and winter surge, you’re in luck. The U.S. Postal Service continues to send out free COVID-19 tests, thanks to a $600 million investment from the White House. In the United States, each household can order four tests, and it only takes two minutes (or less).
The Postal Service has been taking orders for free COVID-19 tests from time to time since January 2022 and has already delivered four rounds, totaling 20 free tests for each household. The federal government first suspended the program in September 2022 when it ran out of testing and funding, then restarted it in December and paused it again after the related public health emergency ended. to COVID-19 in May this year.
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The Postal Service’s new free tests come at a time when COVID-19 hospitalization rates are rising and infection rates are expected to rise through the fall. Read on to learn how to get free tests and other ways to get free COVID tests, treatments, and vaccines.
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How does the USPS free COVID-19 testing program work?
In January 2022, President Joe Biden announced the launch of CovidTests.gov, a website where households could order four free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests shipped by the Postal Service. The site added four more free tests in March 2022, eight more in May 2022, then four more last winter. The new round of shipments will also include four COVID tests.
Unlike some complicated government apps, ordering free tests from the Postal Service is simple. It takes less than two minutes to fill out a short form asking for your name and mailing address, and the tests ship in about a week or two. People without internet access or those who have difficulty ordering online can request tests using a toll-free telephone number: 800-232-0233..
It’s unclear how long the free COVID-19 tests will last, so it’s best to get your order early.
How do I order free tests from USPS?
Now that the Postal Service is taking orders for COVID-19 tests again, all you need to do is provide some information to get your kits. You will not be asked to provide your credit or debit card details as testing and delivery are free. Here’s how to get your free at-home testing kits.
1. Visit special.USPS.com/testkits. You can also get there via covidtests.gov.
2. Enter your contact details and shipping information.
3. Click on Proceed to checkout.
4. Verify that your information is correct and select Place my order.
All orders will be shipped via First Class Parcel Service.
People who cannot access the website or have difficulty ordering online can call 800-232-0233 to order their free tests.
When will my test kits arrive?
Tests are typically sent within seven to 12 days of successful ordering and are delivered by postal service within one to three days of shipment.
What are my other free testing options?
Besides Postal Service testing, there are three main ways to find free COVID-19 testing sites across the United States: HRSA Health Centers, Test to Treat sites, and ICATT testing sites. These options work the same, but we’ll detail the specific steps for finding the closest free testing location.
HRSA Health Centers Offer Free COVID-19 Testing
The Health Resources and Services Administration funds health centers across the United States. At these HRSA health centers, you will be able to benefit from free COVID-19 testing. You can use HRSA’s locator tool to find a center near you.
First, select the language in which you would like to receive your results. Next, simply enter the location you want to search in the box labeled Location. The locator also allows you to broaden your search radius, so you can see all the options your area has to offer.
Once you find a center that’s right for you, click on that particular location’s website and follow their specific instructions to get a free COVID-19 test.
Test to Treat sites have COVID and medication tests available
Test to Treat is a federally funded health care initiative that provides more accessible COVID-19 care. This option differs from the others in this article because you can use Test to Treat centers to receive both COVID testing and infection treatment. Like other free COVID-19 testing options, Test to Treat has a locator tool you can use to find an eligible Test to Treat location near you.
The Test to Treat location locator works like other COVID test finder tools. Enter your location in the search bar and the tool will display Test to Treat locations in your area. A slider bar allows you to resize the search radius to capture all Test to Treat centers in your area.
In the Test to Treat locator results, you will be able to see the address of each location, the COVID-19 therapeutic products they carry, and other special instructions you may need to know to get tested.
Increasing community access to testing allows uninsured people to benefit from COVID testing.
Increasing Community Access to Testing, or ICATT, is another free testing program you can use if you need access to free COVID-19 testing. However, ICATT works a little differently than the other programs on this list.
ICATT is specifically designed for uninsured patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. However, anyone can take an ICATT test at one of the program’s locations, regardless of their insurance status. If you are uninsured and want to take a test at an ICATT-eligible site, you will not need to pay for your test. If you have insurance, you may have to pay a fee.
The ICATT locator tool works like other locator tools for free COVID testing: enter your address or zip code to find ICATT locations near you. There is a search radius adjuster in this locator to fine-tune your searches to capture the entire area you want to search.
Once you find a location, follow the steps at your testing site to schedule your appointment.
How can I get free COVID-19 vaccines and boosters?
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters provide important protection against contracting or getting more severe from the virus. Since the CDC recently recommended updated COVID-19 booster shots for everyone 6 months or older, you may be wondering how to find free COVID-19 vaccines.
If you don’t have insurance or a healthcare provider, don’t worry. The Department of Health and Human Services website states: “COVID-19 vaccines are 100% free to every individual living in the United States. »
On September 14, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the Bridge Access program, which will continue to provide free vaccines to those who are uninsured through local health departments and HRSA centers. The CDC also partnered with “more than 20,000 retail pharmacies nationwide” to provide free vaccines by modifying the existing ICATT program mentioned above.
The Bridge Access program will end in December 2024, but until then you can be confident that you will be able to access COVID-19 vaccines for free.
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Correction, September 21, 2023: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the cost of vaccines for people without insurance. It has been updated with information on how people can get free vaccines.