Americans can once again order free COVID-19 tests from the federal government as a new round of distribution opens.
After stopping the initiative earlier this year, the Biden administration is relaunching the program “to stay ahead of an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter,” according to a Thursday announcement from the White House. Each household will again be able to order four free tests, which will be shipped by the U.S. Postal Service starting later this month.
From January to September, people were able to request rapid at-home COVID-19 tests from the COVID.gov website. More than 600 million free tests were delivered by mail through the government program. Distribution was ultimately paused because Congress didn’t approve funding to replenish the stockpile of tests, the White House said.
But on Thursday, the Biden administration said it’s using some remaining funds to reopen the program for a “limited round” of ordering.
However, it's not yet clear how many total tests will be available in this round — so you might want to go ahead and order them now.
How to order free COVID-19 tests
To order the antigen tests, all you have to do is visit the government website and enter your name and residential address. You can also include your email if you'd like to get shipping updates.
This is the fourth round of free COVID-19 test distribution. The first two rounds of shipments included four tests each, and eight more tests were available for ordering in the third round, which began in May.
In a statement, the White House said “COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it once was” but reiterated that testing remains important, especially with families preparing to gather for the holidays. Officials encourage using the home tests if you feel symptoms that could be COVID-19, when you're visiting vulnerable people indoors, and before and after holiday travel.
The federal program isn't the only way to get free COVID-19 tests. Private health insurance companies are required to cover up to eight over-the-counter rapid tests per month, and there are more than 15,000 locations in the U.S. where you can get an in-person COVID-19 test for free or cheap.