Feeling nervous about going to work or sending the kids to school? The recent emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant has caused a spike in infections across the United States. To help lower spread, the U.S. government recently announced that they will be providing free COVID-19 rapid tests to all households across the country. These test kits are expected to arrive as soon as at the end of January. Continue reading to learn how to claim your four, free rapid tests and what to do in the case of a positive test result!
Who Is Eligible for Free COVID-19 Testing?
According to the official government website COVIDtests.gov, all households in the United States are eligible to receive four, free COVID-19 rapid tests. Tests are shipped between 7 to 12 days upon ordering and are expected to arrive towards the end of January of this year. Please note that these free tests are limited. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend ordering an at-home test if you meet the following conditions:
- If you or anyone in your household currently has symptoms of COVID-19 (sore throat, fever, runny nose, or loss of taste and/or smell).
- If you have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 within at least 5 days.
- If you plan on being with individuals who have a higher risk of infection, either because they have a chronic disease or because they are not up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines.
How Can I Get a Free COVID-19 Test?
Every household is eligible to receive four, free COVID-19 tests. Just follow these steps to claim your tests:
- Visit COVIDtests.gov
- Click the button that says “Order Free At-Home Tests”. You will be redirected to the order page on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) website.
- Fill out the submission form to request your tests. You will need to provide:
- Your contact information: First and last name, Email address
- Shipping address: First and last name, Street address/ P.O. Box, City, State or Province, and ZIP code.
- Upon filling out your information, refer to the "Order Summary" on the right side of the screen. You’ll notice that the total price for the tests and shipping & handling is $0.00, a.k.a. FREE!
- Click on “Check Out Now” to submit your order.
Keep in mind: Your free COVID-19 at-home tests are a FREE, U.S. government benefit. This benefit does not have a shipping cost and you will never be asked to provide a credit card or bank account number. Be wary of potential scammers who may want to charge you for this free service.
Which Free COVID-19 Tests Are Available?
The at-home tests provided by the government are rapid antigen tests authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These rapid tests (also known as OTC tests or self-tests) have the following characteristics:
- Detect virus-specific proteins
- Can be taken anywhere (even from the comfort of home)
- Do not need to be taken to a lab
- Results are ready in 30 minutes
- Work whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms
- Work whether or not you’re up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines
How Is The Test Administered?
The CDC recommends that you carefully read the manufacturer's instructions for use before using an at-home COVID-19 test. If you have any questions about administering your test, contact your healthcare provider. Please see the following CDC-provided home testing instructions below for further instruction:
- How To Collect Your Anterior Nasal Swab Specimen for COVID-19 Testing
- How to Collect a Nasal Mid-Turbinate Specimen for COVID-19 Testing
When Will I Get My Results?
Rapid antigen test results are available approximately 30 minutes after administration.
What Happens If My Test Result Is Positive?
If your test result is positive, it means that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected and it is highly likely that you have COVID-19. The CDC recommends the following guidelines on quarantine and isolation for individuals who have tested positive:
- Stay home for at least 5 days after you test positive.
- Stay isolated from others who live in your home.
- If you cannot stay in isolation at home, make sure that you wear a well-fitted mask when in contact with others.
You may end your quarantine:
- at the end of the 5 days if you did not present any symptoms;
- 5 days after your positive test if you no longer have a fever and your symptoms are improving;
- 10 days after you tested positive if you had severe COVID-19 symptoms. (Consult with your doctor before ending your quarantine).
Keep in mind:The CDC recommends taking precautions for an additional 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19 and completing your self-quarantine. Some of these additional precautions include, but are not limited to wearing a well-fitted mask when around others, avoiding contact with high-risk individuals, and avoiding travel.
What Happens If My Test Result Is Negative?
If your test result is negative, it means that the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not found and, therefore, you do NOT have COVID-19. If you suffered any possible symptoms when taking the rapid test, the negative result could mean that your symptoms are caused by a different illness, such as the flu or even the common cold. Consider scheduling a doctor’s appointment for treatment if necessary.
Keep in mind: People infected with COVID-19 can sometimes have a negative test result. This is known as a "false negative" and typically occurs when the test is performed early in the infection stage when the viral load is still very low. If you receive a negative test result and suspect a possible infection, test yourself again within 2 - 3 days to ensure that you do not have coronavirus.
Where Can I Get Free COVID-19 Tests?
As previously mentioned, the U.S. government is providing four, free antigen tests per household. These tests must be ordered from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) through the COVIDtests.gov website. However, if you need to get tested right away there are over 20,000 sites nationwide for free antigen or PCR COVID-19 testing and are available to all, whether you have health insurance or not.
Testing center locations can be found on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website here.
According to the HHS website, you can also access free or low-cost COVID-19 tests at the following pharmacies:
Additional State-based Information
If you need additional information about obtaining free COVID-19 tests, we recommend researching the options available in your state. Here are a few state-wide resources available:
Don’t Fall For Scams!
Avoid being a victim of fraud! The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers of potential scams related to the shipping of free COVID-19 tests. Remember, these rapid tests will be sent to your home completely free of charge by the U.S. government. There is no additional fee to cover the shipping cost and you will NEVER need to provide your bank account number. The only information you have to submit is your name and address. To request your free COVID-19 tests, you must visit COVIDtests.gov.
Request Your Free COVID-19 Tests Now!
Don’t wait any longer to request your four, free COVID-19 at-home tests. These kits not only help keep you and your family safe, but also help slow the spread of coronavirus in your local community!
Have a question about COVID-19 or obtaining your free tests? Our SABEResPODER team is always here to help you! Just send us a message through our chat.