President Joe Biden’s administration is planning to mail out some 500 million COVID-19 tests, starting in January, according to the White House.
The White House on Tuesday said it will send the test kits to homes as part of an effort to deal with the Omicron COVID-19 variant, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday said accounts for about 73 percent of cases in the United States. It’s not clear yet whether the variant causes more severe disease than previous variants, although fewer than a dozen deaths have been reported worldwide.
“Today, the President is announcing his Administration will purchase a half-billion at-home, rapid tests this winter to be distributed for free to Americans who want them, with the initial delivery starting in January 2022,” the White House said in a press statement.
Additional federal test sites will also be set up across the United States in the coming days, starting in New York City, according to the White House, in a bid to help “states that need additional testing capacity.”
Tuesday’s announcement appears to reverse a previous White House position on COVID-19 testing. White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier this month told reporters that the administration won’t be mailing test kits to every home.
In the press release, the White House confirmed it will send 1,000 members of the military such as military doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical personnel to hospitals in January and February.