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Four free COVID tests now available to every U.S. household

A COVID-19 test on top of masks.
Guido Hoffman
After being suspended in May, the free COVID-19 test program is available again.

COLUMBIA − The Biden Administration reopened a website Monday that allows households to receive four free COVID-19 tests by mail.

The free test program was suspended in May after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The three-month hiatus was followed by a $600 million announcement by the administration in early September to strengthen manufacturing capacity in the United States.

“If there is a demand for these tests, we want to make sure that they’re made available to the American people for free in this way,” Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said.

For Missouri, the biggest upticks of hospitalizations are in the northern part of the state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, Robin Blount, chief medical officer at Boone Health, said the free tests will provide easy access to mid-Missourians.

“It makes it a lot easier if you’ve got those test kits sitting at your house. Maybe you were exposed by friends or other family members or you start feeling poorly,” she said. “You can do the test then and there, you don’t have to get out and go to the grocery store.”

Bill Morrissey, a Kilgore’s pharmacy partner in Columbia, said this still might not be the most efficient method.

“I’m curious to see how quickly after you put your name [into the website] you get them, most people they need them now,” Morrissey said.

The rapid antigen tests are available to order at covid.gov/tests. Results will be given in 30 minutes and can be used for testing whether an individual has COVID-⁠19 symptoms or not.

Morrissey said the free option helps those who can’t pay for tests.

“A lot of folks are like, ‘10 bucks for a test, sure give it to me!’ For some folks 10 bucks is a lot of money, you know,” he said. “So if it’s covered on insurance and they don’t have to pay for it, that is a beneficial place to be. You don’t want somebody to not test because of that.”

The website asks for contact and shipping information and uses the U.S. Postal Service to distribute the tests. The previous round of COVID test distribution provided more than 755 million tests for free to homes nationwide.

KOMU 8 is a full-powered NBC affiliate operating as an independent commercial property. As such, KOMU 8 is the only major network affiliate in the United States that acts as a university-owned commercial television station utilizing its newsroom as a working lab for students.
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