During his first State of the Union address, President Biden announced that the same website where Americans could order free at-home covid tests will open up for a second round of distribution next week.
The effort to mail out free tests began in mid-January, from an initial stockpile of 500,000,000. While the initiative was a welcome change — especially as an agreement between the White House and several retail chains to keep costs of these tests down had just expired — it was also criticized as being inadequate. Its major shortcoming was limiting each recipient address to four tests, an insufficient number for some households.
Presumably this limitation was to prevent the nation’s cache of tests from becoming depleted. But according to reports late last week, around half of that initial half-billion are yet to be claimed.
Unfortunately, this next round of distributions will be much like the first. While Biden was not specific in his speech to the nation, the covidtests.gov site states that “Starting next week, every home in the U.S. will be able to order an additional set of 4 tests.”
Covid testing in clinics around the country remain free, even to those without insurance coverage. The number of new cases continues to fall after the winter Omicron spike, and the CDC recently updated its guidance to suggest that the majority of Americans no longer need to wear masks in most circumstances.