Federal government ending free at-home COVID-19 tests

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 7:41 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The federal government is ending its free at-home COVID-19 test program this Friday. The White House is citing a lack of funding and an effort to preserve supply ahead of a possible surge in cases this fall.

State medical and public health experts stress the importance of continued testing.

“We would ask that individuals who are not symptomatic, that do not have any other health conditions, they just simply want to test, not go to a hospital emergency room,” said Danne Howard with the Alabama Hospital Association.

Shellye Vardaman, a professor of nursing at Troy University, says while a new normal is here, so is COVID-19.

“We already have low numbers of testing. So obviously that’s going to make testing more difficult in our communities,” she said.

Vardaman was referring to her concerns about the White House’s plan to stop offering free tests.

When users go to COVID.gov/tests to order a test, a message appears that reads, “Ordering through this program will be suspended on Friday, September 2 because Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests.”

Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health says testing has increased.

“In terms of testing, we’ve been hovering about 25% positivity on our tests. Our testing volume has come up in the last few weeks,” said Stubblefield.

Even without the federal government’s free at-home tests, Stubblefield says there are other tests available for Alabamians.

“They can go and pick one up at a local retailer,” he said. “And also know that they can be tested at our community, some of our community centers, and also with the county health departments.”

Most county health departments offer free testing, but Vardaman says there are still benefits to at-home tests delivered straight to your home.

“You have to get in the car and go to those sites and you might be putting someone else at risk when you’re leaving your home,” she said.

Vardaman says there are free test delivery available through cms.gov.

There is no timeline of when the federal government could resume those free tests.

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