WASHINGTON - There’s still time to order a set of free at-home COVID-19 tests in the mail before the government suspends the opportunity.
Each home has until Friday, Sept. 2, to place an order for a third round of free rapid antigen at-home testing kits, according to the federal government’s website.
A total of eight tests will arrive in two packages with every order.
But why is the government’s free test program ending? The Biden administration says the U.S. stockpile is running out.
“Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, Sept. 2, because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests,” a message on the covid.gov website states.
The opportunity to order a third round of free test kits was launched in May. The first round began in January, followed by the second in March.
In January, President Joe Biden promised to provide half a billion testing kits through the government’s website, according to a fact sheet. The White House had delivered 350 million free at-home COVID-19 tests to 70 million homes nationwide as of May 17.
A White House official told CNN the administration has “warned that Congressional inaction would force unacceptable tradeoffs and harm our overall COVID-19 preparedness and response—and that the consequences would likely worsen over time.”
“Unfortunately, because of the limited funding we have to work with, we have had to make impossible choices about which tools and programs to invest in—and which ones we must downsize, pause, or end all together,” the official added.
How to order the COVID-19 tests
On COVID.gov, click “order free at-home tests” or call 1-800-232-0233 if help is needed.
Online test kit orders with free shipping will be placed with USPS after filling out the online order form.
The Food and Drug Administration has extended the shelf life and expiration dates for certain at-home testing kits. This information can be found on the agency’s website here.
It’s possible for the government’s free testing kit program to come back if Congress provides more funding, the White House official told CNN.
The suspension of the program comes as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are on the decline as of Aug. 26 following a summer spike, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Roughly 72% of the country lives in a location where COVID-19 levels in their communities are considered medium or high, CDC data shows. Meanwhile, about 28% of the nation lives where virus levels are low.