In August, the federal government pumped the brakes its “free COVID test kit by mail” service, one of the most popular programs to come out of the pandemic, over fears that the American public would deplete the national stockpile of tests before the onset of winter. On Thursday, the White House announced that it has restarted the program in cooperation with the US Postal Service, though households will only receive half as many tests as before — four individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests per household. We live in the single wealthiest nation in the history of the Earth.

When the program was initially paused, 600 million at-home tests had already been sent to American households and, given the rate of distribution, the federal government would have needed to go back to Congress for additional funding to purchase more tests. In September, the White House did just that, asking for $22.4 billion in additional funding to fight COVID — amid mild Summer and Fall COVID seasons, Congress did nothing. The White House then pared down its ask to $10 billion in a supplemental funding request in November. Facing strident opposition from Republicans on the issue, Congress continues to dither

COVID cases reached their lowest in mid-October with just 261,268 reported nationwide. That number has doubled in the past two months, per the CDC. Amid what is suspected may be the latest wave of the pandemic, the White House has decided that the situation is dire enough to warrant dipping back into the national test stockpile as part of its Winter Preparedness Plan. You can order yours through the US Postal Service page here. Orders will begin shipping free the week of December 19th, 2022.