The Biden administration will begin mailing free COVID test kits to Americans to keep them safe as the Omicron version of COVID-19 spreads across the country and around the world.
The White House is ready to mail 500 million COVID test kits, according to NBC News, and is building up a website for Americans to submit their requests. The official did not specify the number of tests that can be requested or the time it will take to receive them.
In addition, the federal government will open new testing centers across the country, bringing the total number of testing centers to 20,000. The first will debut later this week in New York City.
President Joe Biden will also deliver a speech to the country on Tuesday night to lay out the administration’s plans for combating the pandemic this winter. Biden will also paint a bleak picture for the 40 million unvaccinated Americans, who are eight times more likely to be hospitalized and 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
Testing is a problem in cities around the United States, with hours-long queues in New York, Boston, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. last weekend.
In addition to finding it difficult to get tested, the United States is also having difficulty making tests more inexpensive. A test can cost as little as a dollar in some countries, but a pack of two tests in the United States can cost up to $20, if not more.
As per Blackenterprise, prior to Biden’s directive, insurance companies were required to cover the costs of at-home tests, but patients still had to file claims and wait for reimbursement.
In addition, the president has directed 1,000 military personnel to assist hospitals across the country with staffing shortages. Next month, doctors, nurses, and medics will be dispatched, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will set up overflow operations at overburdened hospitals.
The Omicron variation is more contagious than earlier variants, becoming the dominant variant in the United States and other countries in just two weeks. According to an NBC News study, eight states established new hospitalization records alone on Sunday.
Much about the Omicron variant is still unknown, including its lethality. Even if a lesser percentage of Americans become seriously ill, the variant’s highly contagious characteristics may be more dangerous than earlier variations, which have killed over 800,000Americans since the start of 2020.