(NEXSTAR) – If you haven’t yet received the full allotment of free mail-order COVID-19 tests from the Biden administration, you may want to place your order now.
A banner on the COVID.gov site reads: “Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2 because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests.”
The White House says it has distributed more than 600 million tests through the program, which has made three rounds of free, at-home tests available to Americans.
“We’ve warned that the congressional inaction would face unacceptable tradeoffs and harm our preparedness and our response,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “This is an action we’ve been forced to take that will help preserve our limited remaining supply, ensuring we have a limited supply of tests in the fall … when we might face a new rise in infections.”
President Biden announced the plan to buy 500 million tests for the public in December 2021, as omicron cases were already surging in the U.S.
Americans weren’t able to order the free tests until the second half of January, leading to criticism that the government response was too slow for the highly transmissible variant.
Biden said at the time that his administration’s response wasn’t a failure, adding, “I don’t think anybody anticipated it would spread as rapidly spreading” as it was.
In March, Biden called on Congress to provide an additional $22.5 billion that would help provide free vaccines, boosters, treatments for immunocompromised people, and other resources in the case of a winter surge.
Republicans in Congress opposed the measure on financial grounds, citing the $1.9 trillion already allotted to battling COVID-19 under the American Rescue Plan.
Can I still get free COVID-19 test kits?
Just days after the FDA authorized a new booster designed to blunt a winter surge in cases, some communities will now face uncertainty when it comes to obtaining tests.
The program is also ending just as students are returning to classrooms across the country.
Fortunately, there are still other ways to get free COVID-19 tests, although they may be less convenient than the White House’s online ordering system.
Health insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid are subsidizing at-home tests, but for those without insurance, there are still options.
Free tests, therapeutics, and treatment are available via the Test to Treat initiative, which the White House launched in March. Participating providers include pharmacies, grocery stores, community-based sites, long-term care facilities, and others.
A map on the Health and Human Services website will guide you to the nearest participating location, however, access to the services varies by state.