You've Got Until March 8 to Order Free COVID-19 Tests From USPS
The federal government plans to shut down its free COVID rapid test program this Friday.
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In January 2022, President Joe Biden announced the launch of CovidTests.gov, a website where households could order four free rapid antigen COVID-19 tests shipped by USPS. The site added several more free tests through the months of 2022, and then again this past winter, starting on Sept. 25, 2023.
The addition of four more free tests on Nov. 20, 2023 brought a total of eight rapid antigen tests per US household in the latest batch for this winter season. If you haven't ordered any tests from the latest batch, you can receive all eight if you order them from the Postal Service by Friday, March 8.
Unlike some complicated government applications, ordering free tests from the Postal Service is simple. It takes less than two minutes to complete a short form that asks for your name and mailing address, and the tests ship in a week or two. People without internet access or folks who have trouble ordering online can request tests using a toll-free phone number: 800-232-0233.
How do I order free COVID tests from the Post Office?
You only need to provide a few bits of information to get your free COVID tests. You won't be asked to provide any credit or debit card details, as both the tests and the shipping are free. Here's how to get your at-home rapid antigen 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 Check Out Now. 4. Verify that your information is correct and select Place My Order.
All orders will be shipped via First Class Package Service.
People who can't access the website or who have trouble ordering online can call 800-232-0233 to order their free tests.
When will my test kits arrive?
Tests are typically sent out within seven to 12 days of an order being successfully placed and are delivered by the Postal Service within one to three days of shipping.
What are my other free testing options?
Aside from the tests from the Postal Service, you have three main avenues to find free COVID-19 testing locations across the US: HRSA health centers, Test to Treat locations and ICATT testing sites. These options function similarly, but we'll break down the specific steps to find your nearest free testing location.
First, select the language you would like to receive your results in. Then simply enter the location you wish to search into the box labeled Location. The locator also allows you to widen your search radius, so you can see all the options your area has to offer.
Once you've found a center that works for you, click through to that particular location's website and follow their specific instructions for obtaining a free COVID-19 test.
Test to Treat locations have COVID testing and medicine
Test to Treat is a federally funded health care initiative that provides more accessible COVID-19 care. This option differs from the others in this article as you can use the Test to Treat centers to receive both COVID testing and treatment for infections. Like the other COVID-19 free testing options, Test to Treat has a locator tool that you can use to find an eligible Test to Treat center near you.
The Test to Treat center locator works like the other COVID testing search tools. Enter your location into the search bar and the tool will display Test to Treat locations in your area. A sliding bar lets you resize the search radius to capture all of the Test to Treat centers within your area.
Within the Test to Treat locator results, you'll be able to see each location's address, which COVID-19 therapeutics they offer and other special instructions you might need to know to get tested. If there's not an option to schedule a COVID test online through your chosen site, you may need to call.
Increasing Community Access to Testing provides COVID testing for the uninsured
Increasing Community Access to Testing, or ICATT, is another free testing program that you can use if you need access to free COVID-19 testing. ICATT works a bit differently than the other programs on this list.
ICATT is specifically designed for uninsured patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone can get an ICATT test at one of the program's locations, regardless of insurance status. If you are uninsured and you wish to be tested at an ICATT-eligible site, you will not need to pay for your test. If you are insured, you might need to pay a fee.
The ICATT locator tool works just like the other locator tools for free COVID testing -- input your address or your ZIP code to find ICATT locations near you. There is a search radius adjuster in this locator to tweak your searches to capture the entire area that you want to search.
Once you've found a location, follow your testing site's steps for scheduling your appointment.
How can I get free COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots?
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are an important protection against contracting or getting seriously ill from the virus. Since the CDC has recommended updated COVID-19 booster shots for everyone 6 months or older, you might be wondering how to find free COVID-19 vaccines.
On Sept. 14, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the Bridge Access Program, which will continue to provide free vaccines to those who are uninsured through local health departments and HRSA centers. CDC has also partnered with "more than 20,000 retail pharmacy locations nationwide" to provide free vaccines by modifying the existing ICATT program mentioned above.
The Bridge Access Program will end in December 2024, but until then, you'll be able to access free COVID-19 vaccines. To use it, go to vaccines.gov, choose which shot you want, and then click the "search" button. On the next page, select the option that says "Bridge Access Program Participant" to show which locations offer no-cost vaccines.
Correction, Sept. 21, 2023: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the cost of vaccines for people without insurance. It has been updated with information about how people can get free vaccines.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.