COVID-19 PCR testing in the United States over the past two weeks has involved long waits in shabby conditions, and quests for rapid antigen tests have looked like a mole-punching game.
As the omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to spread in the United States, the White House is rolling out a website – COVIDtests.gov – where Americans can request that up to four rapid tests be shipped to their homes starting this week. next.
The White House also announced Wednesday that it will distribute 5 million free rapid tests and five million PRC lab tests to K-12 schools starting this month. These allocations are in addition to the more than $10 billion for school-based testing authorized by the COVID-19 Relief Act.
BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO INCREASE TESTING SUPPLIES TO SCHOOLS IN PUSH TO KEEP THEM OPEN
“We are doing everything we can to make sure our children have the opportunity to stay in school,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told “CBS Mornings.” “That’s where they need to be, and we know we can do it safely.”
The Biden administration said Monday that starting Saturday, private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans.
Americans will be able to either purchase home testing kits for free as part of their insurance or submit receipts for testing for reimbursement, up to the monthly limit per person.
Americans on Medicare will not be able to get reimbursement for the tests from the federal insurance plan, but Medicaid and Children’s Medicare plans are required to cover the cost of home tests.
People who do not have a covered insurance plan can receive free tests through the future federal website or from some local community centers and pharmacies.
The push comes as the concern variant has skyrocketed the number of cases and after President Biden’s criticism of a shortage of rapid home tests during the holiday season.
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“This is all part of our overall strategy to accelerate access to easy-to-use, no-cost home testing,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “By requiring private health plans to cover people’s home testing, we are further expanding the ability of Americans to get free testing when they need it.”
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a White House COVID-19 response team briefing that the seven-day daily average COVID-19 cases had increased by about 47% compared to the previous week. Hospitalizations had increased by about 33%.
The health leader told reporters that Americans should be tested whenever they have symptoms that appear to be COVID-19.
“So fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms, muscle aches, when exposed – so five days after being exposed to someone who has COVID-19 – and certainly if you’re going to get together as a family, if you’re going to a gathering where people are immunocompromised or where they’re elderly or where you have people who might be unvaccinated or poorly protected against the vaccine, that might be an opportunity you’d want to test. Of course, for the ” test to stay “in other protocols,” Walensky explained.
Jordan Savitsky, who oversees COVID-19 testing programs for businesses as general manager of ATC Alert Health, told Fox News last week that home testing brands don’t matter.
“I would say I would pass any test I could get my hands on because right now we’re just not in an environment where anyone has the luxury of choosing,” he said. he adds.
Although Savitsky said he believes supply will eventually catch up with demand, it may be too late for many Americans trying to navigate the omicron-fueled surge.
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“I think it’s hard to process what’s really going on right now, which is most people are going to get COVID, okay?” the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Janet Woodcock. “What we need to do is make sure hospitals can still operate – transport, other essential services are not disrupted while this is happening.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.