As part of the White House rolls back orders for free at-home COVID testing

American families will now be able to request up to four more free at-home COVID tests from the federal government. The White House announced it is reopening orders as part of a new “Winter Preparedness Plan,” as cases and hospitalizations rise growing nationwide,

One request from each household will be accepted through a “limited round of orders for this winter”., The first test will be shipped by the US Postal Service during the week of December 19th.

“Procurement is ongoing and so I can’t give you exact numbers on how this is going to land, but we are confident that in the coming weeks we are going to have enough tests to go through this, four per household.” a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday.

trick revives a program Joe Biden administration had stopped in early septemberCiting a long-delayed request in Congress for federal pandemic response funding.

At the time, officials said the decision to pause the program was “to ensure that we have a limited supply of tests available in the fall to account for potential increases”.

A White House spokesman said Wednesday that this winter’s shipment would be supplied by a mix of newly purchased tests and the remaining supplies contracted for the original round of requests. The administration official told reporters that the tests were paid for american rescue plan Money, shuffled from other priorities as part of “hard choices”.

“We have been able to reopen for a limited period of time because, in the absence of congressional funding, we have worked within our limited resources to purchase more domestic tests for our national stockpile,” the official said. “

more free test at home Will also be stationed in federally subsidized housing for senior citizens and food banks.

The official stressed that the new round of orders comes on top of other free testing initiatives already rolled out earlier in the pandemic that remain available to Americans, such as the federal requirement that private health insurers cover the cost of eight tests per month. Let’s cover

“We have the equipment”

The move comes at a time when the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has increased in many regions, especially among seniors, although they are not at levels seen at the height of the Omicron variant surge last winter. remains a part of. Cases also spiked in nursing homes to levels not seen since early February.

growing number of communities including New York Cityissues renewed plea for residents to wear masks indoors as COVID-19 metrics climb above CDC “high level,

On the vaccination front, the pace of new shots being administered across the country has largely stalled. Only 15.5% of adults have received their updated COVID booster shot.

In nursing homes, data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that only 45% of residents have received the latest boosters by the end of November. It was only 3 percentage points better than a month earlier.

Nursing home staff will now be able to vaccinate residents, officials said, and the White House is hosting a “Winter Day” for at-risk Americans to raise awareness about steps they can take to curb the virus this season. Issuing Playbook”.

“We have the necessary equipment to prevent death and serious illness, and we want all nursing homes to act now,” the official said.

Other steps announced this week as part of the White House plan also echo those from earlier in the pandemic, such as “pre-positioning critical supplies” from national stockpiles and preparing medical surge teams.

However, the Biden administration stopped short of fully revamping all of its initiatives from last winter, such as the distribution of millions of free N-95 masks to pharmacies and grocery stores.

The White House says many are still available unused in stores, and the Biden administration plans to provide guidance to retailers “so that any excess inventory can be used through distribution to even more locations.” “

“We have a whole range of tools that we use for mitigation, preventing serious illness, preventing infection. Masks should be one of them. They shouldn’t be elevated. They shouldn’t be lowered. They’re our Those are just one of the tools people have “they should use when they want,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said at an event organized by “Health Matters” on Tuesday.

Jha said that masking for COVID-19 had become “unnecessarily complicated” and that he hoped that “lowering the temperature” on the subject could reduce fights over masking.

“We don’t ask and demand people to use all the devices, but the more you use, the safer you are,” Jha said.

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