Free Covid tests will soon no longer be available through the US Postal Service – Mother Jones

Rapid antigen tests Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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A friendly PSA: If you haven’t yet ordered your free home Covid tests through the US Postal Service, you only have a few days left to do so.

“Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2, because Congress has not provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s testing stockpile,” federal officials announced on the government website. Covid testing site.

Each household is eligible for 16 rapid antigen tests through the USPS website, up from four free tests when the program launched earlier this year. After September 2, it will still be possible to have the tests covered by health insurance, either directly or with reimbursement.

In the spring, the Biden administration hoped to receive $10 billion from Congress to continue funding the pandemic response, but an agreement for the funding fell through. As a result, Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid Response Coordinator, said earlier in August, federal authorities were to stop spending so much money on testing and instead allocate resources for new booster vaccines designed to protect against coronavirus variants BA.4 and BA.5 circulating throughout the country.

These vaccines should be available in September. They’re “coming very, very soon,” Jha said at an event sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, according to CNN. He urged people to get vaccinated once they are eligible. “These are substantial improvements in our vaccines in terms of their ability to prevent infection to prevent transmission…[A]All data suggests that it should be very effective against new variants.

According data available, Covid cases are down in the US after jumping this summer, but BA.4 and BA.5 remain widespread and highly contagious. Jha noted that hospitals could be strained this fall and winter as flu season kicks off alongside another potential surge in Covid cases, especially after states continued to ease masking restrictions. “In normal times without a pandemic, the flu really stretches our healthcare system,” he said. “Throwing Covid on top of that, our healthcare system is going to be in serious trouble unless we’re very proactive about preventing it, if we don’t do anything and just kind of hope for the best.”