MONDAY, Feb. 28, 2022 (HealthDay News) — As COVID-19 cases across the United States drop, nearly half of the 500 million free tests offered by the federal government have gone unused, according to the White House.
Americans have placed 68 million orders for packages of four free rapid tests per family, but about 46 percent of the tests are still up for grabs, the Associated Press reported. On the first day that the free tests were available in January, the covidtests.gov website received more than 45 million orders, but fewer than 100,000 orders a day are coming in now, officials said.
Even though demand has declined, the White House will keep the program in place. “We totally intend to sustain this market,” Tom Inglesby, M.D., testing adviser to the COVID-19 response team, told the AP. “We know the market is volatile and will come up and down with surges in variants.”
The Biden administration is also making free at-home tests available at community locations such as libraries and clinics. Testing will become more important with the easing of mask mandates, some experts say.
“If infection control is still our priority, testing is central,” Leana Wen, M.D., a former Baltimore health commissioner, told the AP. “Four tests per household for one family will only last you one time. There should be enough tests for families to test twice a week.”
As another part of its testing push, the White House now requires insurers to cover eight free rapid tests per person, per month, and Medicare coverage will start in the spring.
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