THURSDAY, Dec. 15, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- With cases of the flu, respiratory syncytial virus, and COVID-19 rising and hospitals filling up nationwide, the Biden administration on Wednesday announced a "winter preparedness plan" for what could be a tough season ahead.
One step toward protecting Americans from spreading infection is restarting a program in which every household in the country is eligible to receive four free COVID-19 nasal swab testing kits, the White House said in a statement on the plan. One request per household will be filled via COVIDtests.gov in a "limited round of ordering this winter," a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday, CBS News reported. The first test kits will be sent out the week of Dec. 19 via the U.S. Postal Service. Other kits will be sent to federally funded senior housing and food banks.
The free COVID-19 test program was halted in September after further funding for pandemic response programs was curtailed by Congress. The administration official said the COVID-19 test program restart was funded by funds from the American Rescue Plan after "hard choices" were made over funding priorities, CBS News reported.
The White House official said the new free four-test kits are in addition to the eight COVID-19 tests per month that private insurance companies must provide coverage for under current regulations.
The new winter preparedness plan comes as COVID-19 hospitalization rates soar and nursing home cases have risen to levels not seen since February. Some cities are reinstating indoor masking recommendations -- even as COVID-19 vaccination rates decline. According to recent statistics, just 15.5 percent of American adults have gotten the latest booster shot that better protects them against omicron variants.