As COVID cases surge across the country in the midst of Omicron’s spread, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Americans to easily obtain both rapid and PCR tests. The Biden administration is developing a plan of action to deliver millions of at-home rapid tests. However, it’s unclear when it will be finalized, as delays continue.
The Biden administration plans to send out 500 million rapid tests to Americans, according to Daily Mail. Those who would like one sent to their home will be able to request one via a designated website. However, it’s unclear when it will be online. The goal is to begin sending out those tests by mid-January.
Several test manufacturers and distributors have submitted proposals to the administration, and as of Thursday, the first contract has finally been agreed upon.
Biden Administration, US Postal Service and Unions Negotiating At-Home Tests
In the meantime, the U.S Postal Service is currently negotiating with its four labor unions in an effort to extend their seasonal workforce. The service brings in roughly 40,000 seasonal employees to help manage the larger amounts of packages and mail that come through during the holiday season. The service moved 13.2 billion pieces of mail between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve in 2021, reports say.
And as the holiday season wrapped, more and more people were looking for COVID tests. Due to the large uptick in positive cases, many Americans were finding themselves waiting in obscenely long lines for tests. Many found no available appointments at their local COVID clinics, and bare pharmacy shelves where one could typically buy an at-home rapid test.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, initially criticized the idea of sending out at-home tests. “Should we just send one to every American?” Psaki said during a Dec. 6 news conference. “Then what happens if every American has one test? How much does that cost, and then what happens after that?”
COVID Cases Continue To Rise in the US
By mid-December, Biden announced his plan to purchase 500 million at-home tests and provide them to Americans for free. “I know this remains frustrating,” Biden said Tuesday of the testing issue. “Believe me, it’s frustrating to me, but we’re making improvements. And the last two weeks we’ve stood up federal testing sites all over the country.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky shared her thoughts on the current surge in an interview on Friday. “The number of cases are rising faster than the number of hospitalizations and deaths, although we’re now starting to see the number of hospitalizations rise as well,” she told the Today Show. “The way it is peaked in other countries, in South Africa, it has come down as rapidly as well. But I don’t believe we’ve seen the peak yet here in the United States.”
Walensky also added, “We are definitely looking at a time ahead of us where COVID will be an endemic virus. We are in the middle of a surge right now so we have to do everything we can to address that surge.”
Omicron was first discovered in South Africa, and their cases have sharply declined since their peak in Mid-December. Cases continue to rise in the UK, who appears to be a few weeks ahead of the US in reaching a surge. Data suggests that cases may be beginning to level off in London.