This is the last week to order free COVID-19 rapid tests from the United States government. The program will be suspended on Friday, September 2nd, “because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests,” the program’s website reads.
The White House launched COVIDTests.gov in January of this year, soon after the omicron variant first started burning through the US. Every US household is eligible for three sets of tests from the website, so if you still haven’t gotten all of your tests, now’s the time to place the order. Here’s our how-to guide.
An unnamed White House official told CNN that the Biden administration didn’t have enough funding from Congress for all its COVID-19 response programs and that it wanted to save its stockpile of tests for any surge in cases this fall. If Congress allocates more COVID-19 funding, the White House would restart the program, the official said. “Until then, we believe reserving the remaining tests for distribution later this year is the best course.”
The Biden administration is also planning to stop paying for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, shifting responsibility to health insurers and individuals.
For the past two years, COVID-19 has been an outlier in the US health system — tests, treatments, and vaccines for the disease were made available at no cost through centralized government programs. Access wasn’t perfect, and the system was still unwieldy, but things like COVIDTests.gov were examples of what public health can look like when it’s treated as a true public good. But now, the disease is starting to become like any other in the United States: an expensive, individual problem.