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US Surgeon General says COVID tests being sent to homes as omicron batters hospitals

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 7:10 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Biden Administration is sending at home Covid tests to millions of Americans as the omicron variant continues to cripple hospitals. Beginning Wednesday Americans will be able to order at-home rapid tests at no cost courtesy of the federal government.

“Omicron it turned out was the most transmissible version of COVID-19 by far,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Dr. Murthy says omicron created a testing gap in many countries, but Wednesday, Murthy says, will be another step in closing that gap. The U.S. is readying one billion rapid tests for deployment to Americans who order at covidtests.gov.

“With testing, as much as we’ve improved the process, we’ve now got to do even more,” said Dr. Murthy.

The administration says they are working to ensure the program reaches hard-hit high-risk communities. The tests can also be ordered by phone for those without internet access.

They say the tests will ship seven-to-12 days from ordering.

“You constantly have to be thinking about what are you doing well and what could you be doing better?” said Dr. Murthy.

Dr. Murthy concedes there are things the administration could be doing better in dealing with the pandemic, like free quality masks, more free testing, and broader access to therapeutics. The first full year of the administration’s pandemic response has seen high points and low points. Murthy saw the year begin with a historic vaccination rollout, but he is now looking at record highs in case numbers.

“You don’t rest until the job is done. You don’t stop learning, you don’t stop trying to get better, and that’s what this administration’s going to continue to do,” said Dr. Murthy.

In addition to the government sending tests for free, the Biden Administration is requiring health insurers to cover the cost of rapid tests people buy at pharmacies. The White House rule says each person with health insurance can get eight free rapid tests per month.

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