Free home Covid tests available from Monday

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

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

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

Starting Monday, Americans can use to request four free tests per household. Those who have not ordered any tests this fall can now place two orders for a total of eight tests, according to the website.

In September, the administration allowed people to request an initial round of four free tests through the site, resuming a federal program that temporarily closed during a political fight over Covid funding.

Home tests are a critical tool to protect against the virus, especially now that laboratory 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 testing, along with Covid vaccines and treatments, has plummeted over the past year as cases and public concern about the virus have declined since early in the pandemic.

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Only a small proportion of Americans appear to be worried that Covid will disrupt their vacation plans this fall and winter.

About 3 in 10 Americans said they are worried about getting seriously ill from Covid or spreading the virus to people close to them during the holidays, according to a survey released Friday by health policy research organization KFF.

Less than half were worried about the possibility of another Covid surge over the winter, as occurred in previous years of the pandemic, the survey found.

Still, signs of a winter wave of Covid 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 increase of 8.6% from the previous week.

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