WASHINGTON (HealthDay News) — The White House’s plan to provide 500 million free rapid home coronavirus testing kits to households across America is being finalized.
The government will launch a website where people can request the rapid tests, said four people familiar with the plan and speaking on condition of anonymity, the Washington Post reported. With the help of the US Postal Service (USPS), officials hope to begin shipping test kits by mid-January.
Test makers and distributors looking to supply some of the 500 million tests have already submitted proposals to the government and the first contract was awarded Thursday evening, a person with knowledge of the plan said. A formal announcement on the details of the plan could come next week, the After reported.
Meanwhile, the USPS is negotiating with its four unions to expand its seasonal workforce—the 40,000 or so people who come in each year to help the agency through an abundance of vacation packages and mail, the After reported.
A White House representative declined to comment on the plan and representatives from the USPS did not respond to requests for comment.
President Biden first announced the test kit plan just before Christmas.
In recent weeks, demand for the tests has surged beyond supply as millions of Americans traveled during the holiday season as the highly contagious Omicron variant raged. Across the country, Americans lined up at pharmacies, community centers and local government offices, desperate for tests that would tell them if they could visit loved ones over the holidays.
Jeffrey Zients, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters on Wednesday that manufacturers would begin supplying tests to the federal government “in the next week or so.” He added that those kits “do not interfere with or in any way cannibalize the tests that are on the shelves of pharmacies and on websites and used in other environments”. After reported.
Since the ommicron variant first appeared in South Africa in November, the cunning variant has spread across the Americas at breakneck speed and is now responsible for 95% of all U.S. COVID cases, the latest data from the U.S. shows. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The USPS almost played a role in a similar partnership with the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic. The idea was to ship 650 million reusable cloth masks to every U.S. household as early as April 2020, but former President Donald Trump rejected the plan due to an ongoing feud with the USPS leadership and concerns that shipping the masks would “concern or panic.” a Trump administration official told the After.
For more information about COVID testing, visit the US Food and Drug Administration.
SOURCE: Washington Post