At-home COVID tests are free now, but how can you get them?

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Tests ordered from the COVIDTests.gov website have begun arriving in homes.


Sarah Tew/CNET


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test kits are more accessible to all Americans now that health insurers have started covering the cost of at-home tests. Americans also have access to four  per household, which are now being shipped by the US Postal Service.

On Jan. 19, the White House launched , a website where you can order free at-home COVID test kits. Each household can request four COVID-19 tests. People can also order tests via a hotline — 800-232-0233 — if they can’t access the website. 

Some at-home COVID tests had already been delivered to households, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during . «You know, tests started shipping yesterday. We’re hearing stories of some already arriving today.»

Also, as of Jan. 15, health insurance providers are required to cover the cost of eight at-home COVID tests per month per individual. That means a family of five can get 40 free tests per month. Customers can be reimbursed for COVID kits up to $12 per test, or receive free tests at no cost from participating in-network pharmacies.

Several state and local governments have also begun distributing free COVID tests to residents, but a shortage of test kits and high demand have made it very difficult for many Americans to find at-home tests. Read on to learn more about at-home COVID-19 tests, including where you can get them now.

For more information on COVID-19, get the latest on the , how to pick the and how to tell the difference between .

How do I get free at-home COVID-19 tests?

People can now per household online at . The Postal Service will deliver kits in the continental US through First-Class Package Service. Shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, US territories and Universitas Alma Ata Bantul any military addresses will be sent through Priority Mail.

According , the kits will typically ship within seven to 12 days of ordering.

President Joe Biden announced on Jan. 12 the government was doubling the number of available free tests to 1 billion, and providing to schools per month.

Several states are already issuing free COVID-19 tests to residents, including , , , , , , , , and . Washington, DC, is making at-home tests available for pickup  while other cities, such as  and , are distributing them to local health clinics. 

Washington state launched its site but was quickly overwhelmed. With 650,000 free tests on hand, the state stopped taking orders about six hours after launch with the message: «We have had an overwhelming response to the initiative and have already exhausted the limited supply available for home delivery.»

Washington’s website briefly reopened for orders on Saturday, but as of Sunday, it was back to a message of unavailability and remains that way.

Where can I buy at-home tests?

At-home rapid COVID-19 tests are usually available at pharmacies like Walgreens, Walmart and CVS, and via online retailers like Amazon. The White House is allowing insurers to establish a roster of in-network pharmacies and to cap coverage of kits bought at out-of-network retailers. Check with your insurance company to see which stores are in your network.

The  has led to a test kit shortage and forced retailers to place limits on how many you can purchase in many regions: Walgreens currently allows each customer to purchase a maximum of four at-home tests, while CVS sets its limit at six. Walmart caps online purchases to eight tests but has no limit on in-store purchases.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 25, the only available rapid tests on the Walgreens website are . CVS has three tests available online:  for two tests;  for a single test; and  for two tests.

Walmart’s website has  available at $30 for two tests as well as a pricier  for one. Amazon currently has the  available at $33.75 for two tests, as well as a whopping  for $1,618 (about $18 per two tests). We’ll continue to update as availability changes.

How do I get reimbursed for test kits?

As of Jan. 15, health insurance companies are required to reimburse Americans for eight at-home antigen tests per person a month, under a . If an individual has been directed to undergo COVID-19 testing by their medical provider because of underlying health conditions or other factors, there is no limit on the number of tests covered.

Carriers can establish in-network pharmacies where the cost will be covered up front, and cap coverage at out-of-network retailers at $12 per test.

Though the Biden plan is not retroactive, some states — — required insurers to start covering at-home kits earlier. You may also want to check with your employer, as some private companies also began offering reimbursement options for at-home tests before the Jan. 15 deadline.

How to get reimbursed for at-home COVID tests varies considerably among specific health insurance companies. Follow the links below for information about at-home COVID test reimbursement for the five US carriers with the largest memberships.

Do Medicare and Medicaid cover at-home tests?

Biden’s new rules on reimbursement for at-home COVID-19 tests don’t currently apply to Medicaid and Medicare, although test kit producers are lobbying to change that.

People with Medicare — a free federal program for all Americans 65 and older — who also have private health insurance can receive reimbursement from their insurer.

State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, aka CHIP, programs are currently required to cover FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests without cost-sharing, .

What if I don’t have health insurance?

For those without insurance, Biden said there will be «thousands of locations» where you can pick up free COVID-19 test kits to use at home in private, rather than get swabbed in a drive-thru clinic. You can also order your free tests from the website, though you’re limited to four per household.

Those who don’t have health insurance can also access free kits at community health clinics and other local sites. The HHS offers a .

How much do at-home tests cost?

Rapid antigen tests are generally much cheaper than home collection tests. Costs vary from brand to brand, but kits generally run about $10 to $25 apiece, with two tests per kit.

Both Walgreens and CVS are selling Abbott’s BinaxNow and Quidel’s QuickVue tests — two of the first authorized by the FDA — for $24 for a pack of two. Acon’s FlowFlex rapid test is currently $10 for one test at both Walgreens and CVS. The On/Go kit of two rapid tests is currently selling for $25 on Amazon and $30 on Walmart.

Home collection tests, which require a nasal swab or saliva sample to be sent to a lab for analysis, cost much more than the rapid antigen tests and require a much longer period to get results. But the «molecular» tests are considered far more accurate than antigen tests. CVS and Walgreens are selling Labcorp’s Pixel home-collection test for $125.

The extreme shortage of kits has led some to resell them on platforms like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok, often at an inflated price and with fraudulent merchandise.

«We’ve received reports that unauthorized sellers are trying to profit from the pandemic by selling COVID-19 tests online,» Washington Attorney General Karl Racine . «Please beware and only buy tests through authorized retailers so you can ensure the integrity of your test.»

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, told it prohibits the sale of test kits on any of its platforms.

Should I use a rapid test or get a PCR test?

The two main types of COVID-19 tests are rapid antigen tests and polymerase chain reaction tests. Antigen tests can be taken at home and return results in about 10 to 15 minutes. PCR tests are more accurate but require lab work and generally don’t provide results for at least 12 hours and sometimes up to five days.

Both tests typically use nasal swab samples, though some collect saliva. PCR tests administered by a professional may require a nasopharyngeal sample that involves a much deeper nostril swab. Rapid antigen tests usually require swirling a swab in the nostril less than an inch deep.

PCR tests amplify genetic material from the collected sample up to a billion times to detect even the slightest amount of COVID-19 genes, making them highly accurate. They’re also more expensive, usually costing more than $100 apiece.

Rapid antigen tests simply detect the presence of COVID-19 antigens — the substances that prompt your immune system to create antibodies — and work much like home pregnancy tests. If your sample contains COVID-19 antigens, the thin line of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies on the test strip will change color.

Because rapid tests are simply looking for the existence of antigens, they work best when someone is symptomatic. Rapid antigen tests are less successful with early infections and asymptomatic cases. The risk of a false negative is much higher with a rapid test than a false positive.

The type of test you choose will mostly depend on your situation. Do you need results right now, and are willing to risk less accuracy? Then rapid antigen fits the bill. If you want closer to 100% accuracy and don’t need instant results, the «gold standard» PCR is your best choice.

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What if I test positive for COVID-19 using an at-home test?

If you take an at-home test and it’s positive for COVID-19, it’s recommended that you share the results with your medical provider and local health department. Methods of reporting self-tests to health departments vary wildly, though. Some have online forms, others require email and others use phone reporting. Check your local health department website for specific info on how to report a positive result.

After receiving a positive test result, you should , and longer if you’re symptomatic, according to the CDC. Though the risk of false positives from rapid tests is low, most medical experts and health officials still recommend confirming a positive at-home test with a subsequent PCR test.

For more information, and everything you need to know about the .


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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When And How to Clean Your Phone While The COVID-19 Outbreak

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it's imperative to clean generally contacted surfaces.

One kind of surface that we contact much of the time is our telephone touch screen.

Telephone touch screens can, for the most part, be cleaned utilizing sterilizing wipes, yet check with the producer of your telephone first.

The frequency of cleaning will change contingent upon your habits and the probability of exposure.

With the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a lot of attention put on preventive actions, such as handwashing, remaining at home when we are sick, and cleaning generally touched surfaces.

As to last mentioned, notwithstanding, there is one kind of surface that we might be neglecting: the touch screens and conducting cases for our telephones.

Various studies have discovered that our cellphones can be transporters of microbial life forms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

While a significant number of these are innocuous, as per Westenberg, there are also disease-causing organisms like the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can survive on surfaces sufficiently long to be transmitted to you or someone else.

Should you clean your phone?

If you are washing your hands efficiently, exactly how important is it to likewise clean your phone?

Westenberg said that if individuals clean their hands before contacting their devices, that would usually be sufficient to prevent us from moving the virus through touch.

«However, as regularly as we contact our devices, washing our hands before each new contact with the device would be impractical,» he said.

In fact, as per a 2019 review by research firm dscout, the average person contacts their cellphone 2617 times every day.

Considering this reality, cleaning down the touch screens and cases of our phones should be a part of our daily schedule.

How to clean your phone

As a matter of first importance, you will need to consult the website for the maker of your phone or conveying case for particular guidelines that they may have to abstain from damaging your device or case.

Numerous manufacturers, including Apple, have given recommendations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While explicit instructions may vary contingent upon your device, Apple is prompting the accompanying for its products:

  • Unplug all power sources, gadgets, and cables.
  • Utilize just a delicate, lint-free cloth.
  • Keep fluids far from your gadget.
  • Stay away from inordinate cleaning.
  • Stay away from aerosol sprays, bleaches, and abrasives.
  • Don't permit moisture to get into any openings.
  • Abstain from spraying cleaners straightforwardly onto your device.

Apple is suggesting the utilization of 70 percent isopropyl liquor wipes or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to wipe down any hard, nonporous surfaces.

Be that as it may, they state you should abstain from utilizing them on leather or Universitas Alma Ata Yogyakarta texture to prevent harm.

However, you should abstain from utilizing chlorine bleach. This could harm your phone.

Keeping your phone in a sealed case will make it simpler to wipe it down with disinfectant wipes.

How often should you clean your phone?

As indicated by Schaffner, the most probable way that your device would get contaminated with high levels of the virus is for somebody to wheeze or cough close to it.

Microscopic droplets containing the virus could then choose the phone.

Along these lines, if you have been confining to any coughing or sniffling individual, it would be a smart thought to clean your phone.

Also, as per Westenberg, it would be a good idea to clean your phone «all the time,» although not necessarily every time you touch it.

To the extent the frequency, this will differ with your habits, said Westenberg.

If you are being persevered about washing your hands, you would need to clean the screen less frequently, perhaps more than once per day.

If you are placing your phone down on a possibly contaminated surface, washing your hands infrequently, and so forth, at that point, I would suggest all the more frequently.

Schaffner said he believes it's critical to stress, in any case, that except if you are in a home with somebody who has SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, it's generally improbable that your phone has any infection on it.

I don't think there's any reason to clean your telephone more than once per day, except if it's possibly been exposed to the virus.

Samuel Davis — the content writer at the Dose Pharmacy — . Samuel is a very enthusiastic and well-behaved person. He can write the most informative blogs on useful topics that help everyone to know about health problems and get an idea of a solution for any type of health issue.