U.S. Government to Pause Free At-Home Covid-19 Tests

The federal government plans to hit pause this week on a program that sends free at-home rapid Covid-19 tests to U.S. households.

“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,” said a post on COVIDTests.gov, the federal website where tests can be ordered.

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The Biden administration has pushed Congress for billions in additional funding for Covid-19 vaccines, boosters, treatments and testing. Senate lawmakers negotiated a bipartisan spending deal to repurpose $10 billion in funds for Covid-19, but that deal got hung up.

Orders for the free at-home tests will continue to be accepted until Sept. 2.

Since the program began in January, more than 350 million free tests have been delivered, according to the White House.

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Many people embraced rapid, antigen tests to check their status before work, travel or socializing, as Omicron variants were quickly spreading. But rapid-test production and demand have declined overall since the spring, data suggests, as people take fewer pandemic precautions.

The Biden administration in May announced a third round of free tests available through COVIDTests.gov. People could request up to eight at-home tests per order—bringing the total of free Covid-19 kits available to each household since the start of the program to 16.

The third round of tests available were purchased by the federal government earlier this year.