Last week to get free COVID tests: How to order yours before it’s too late
For the latest news and information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.
Asand as the fall season approaches, the U.S. federal government is suspending its program to send free home COVID-19 tests to U.S. households. USA Today first reported on Friday that the decision was made due to limited testing.
Over the weekend, the U.S. Postal Service’s dedicated home COVID testing page added an announcement that “the free COVID-19 home testing program order will be suspended on Friday, September 2, 2022.”
In January 2022, the government launched CovidTests.gov, a website that allows households to order four free rapid COVID-19 antigen tests shipped by the US Postal Service. The site added four more free tests in March, followed by eight more in May.
If you haven’t received any tests, you can still get all 16 free tests, but you’ll need to act fast. Fortunately, it only takes two minutes to order your tests. See below for how to get test kits, when they’ll arrive, and what to do if you run into trouble.
How to get free COVID-19 tests
All you need to do is provide the US Postal Service with some information to get your free test kits. You will not be asked to provide your credit or debit card details, as testing and delivery are free. Here’s how to get your free test kits.
1. Visit special.USPS.com/testkits. You can also get there via covidtests.gov.
2. Enter your contact details and shipping information.
3. Click on Proceed to checkout.
4. Check that your information is correct and select Place my order.
All orders will be shipped via First Class Parcel Service.
People who can’t access the website or have trouble ordering online can call 800-232-0233 to order their free tests.
How can I track my order?
Once your order has been placed, you should receive a confirmation email. When your package ships, you will receive email notifications providing you with shipping updates, including a tracking number and estimated delivery date. Note that for round three you will receive two packages which will likely arrive on different days, so look for two confirmation emails with your tracking numbers.
Once you receive it, you can either click the tracking link or copy and paste the tracking number into the postal service’s website tracker.
How many test kits can I get?
According to the USPS, each residential household is eligible for three sets of free rapid home COVID-19 antigen tests, for a total of 16 kits.
Only one person per address can place an order for the free tests, even if you have several people living in your home.
Can I choose which brand test I receive?
No, there is no option to choose which test brand you will receive. All tests are rapid antigen tests authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, such as iHealth.
When will the test kits arrive?
Tests typically ship within seven to 12 days of ordering and are delivered by the USPS within one to three days of shipment.
What if I haven’t received my first or second batch of test kits?
The USPS says its site had some difficulty recognizing some residential addresses, particularly apartment buildings, multi-family homes, and residences tied to commercial properties.
If you are having trouble placing an order, you can file a service request online or call USPS Help Desk at 800-ASK-USPS.
Is it OK to use a test kit that has been left outside?
According to the FDA, the manufacturers have assured that the tests remain stable at different temperatures, “including shipping in summer to very hot regions and in winter to very cold regions.”
But a test can be damaged if left outside in freezing temperatures or if used immediately after being brought indoors from freezing temperatures.
The ideal temperature for storing COVID-19 antigen rapid test kits is between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
The FDA has warned of the effect of extreme heat on COVID testing, saying “long exposure to high temperatures may impact test performance,” but also recommends simply confirming the test line on the kit.
“As long as the test line[s] appear as described in the instructions, you can be sure that the test is working as it should,” the FDA website states.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.