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May 31, 2022, 1:37 p.m. EDT

Free rapid at-home COVID tests: You can order a third round from the federal government — here’s how

By Weston Blasi

Americans can start ordering free COVID-19 test kits from the federal government once again.

The U.S. government is mailing out eight more rapid at-home COVID tests per household to people who order them through the United States Postal Service. You can order them online at special.usps.com/testkits or by calling 1-800-232-0233.

This marks the third time that the U.S. government has made a push to send free rapid COVID tests out to Americans through the mail. People were able to order free tests from USPS for the first time in January 2022, and again in March 2022. This brings the total number of free tests available to each household since the start of the program to 16. 

“As the highly transmissible subvariants of Omicron drive a rise in cases in parts of the country, free and accessible tests will help slow the spread of the virus,” the White House said in a Tuesday statement.

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The White House officially announced the third round of tests on Tuesday. But the ordering site was already live on Monday, with some people shared they had already ordered their free tests on Twitter on Monday afternoon.

Every home in the U.S. is allowed to order these tests, regardless of whether the residents ordered tests during the previous rounds of availability, according to the COVID.gov site. This time around, there is an order limit of two orders per residential address. Each order consists of four rapid antigen tests, for a total of eight tests, according to the USPS website . Your order will come in two separate packages (with four tests in each package), each with its own tracking number, and the orders will ship for free.

During the previous COVID test order windows, the free tests typically shipped within seven to 12 days of ordering, according to the White House , with most tests delivered by the USPS within 48 hours of shipping.

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The Biden administration announced in January that it planned to distribute 1 billion free test kits to Americans, including 500 million available for ordering at COVIDTests.gov. The White House says that more 70 million households have visited the site to order at-home tests to be mailed directly to them. And to date, the administration says it has delivered about 350 million free tests across the country, in U.S. territories and military bases overseas.

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And the latest round of free rapid at-home tests comes as U.S. COVID are trending at the highest levels seen since late November. The U.S. is averaging 95,813  cases a day , which is up 57% from two weeks ago,  according to a New York Times tracker.  COVID cases are up in almost every state, and the Northeast and Midwest have seen a particularly substantial uptick in new cases .

Coronavirus Update: U.S. government is offering free COVID tests again, as cases rise 57% from two weeks ago

The U.S. confirmed death toll from COVID-19 currently sits at 999,850 , according to the John Hopkins University tracker, edging toward 1 million. The global death toll from the pandemic rose above 6.26 million, and the World Health Organization has warned in recent months that the pandemic is not yet over .

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