During the State of the Union address on Mar.1, President Joe Biden announced that Americans would have the opportunity to order a second round of at-home COVID-19 tests beginning Mar. 7. The U.S. government-backed initiative was created to help curb the spread of COVID-19 across the U.S., especially as new variants of the disease continue to emerge.
“If you already ordered free tests, tonight, I’m announcing you can order another group of tests. Go to Covidtest.gov starting next week and you can get more tests,” Biden instructed millions of Americans during Tuesday’s speech.
As MADAMENOIRE reported, the first round of free rapid antigen tests was distributed back in January and was limited to four tests per household. On average, the tests were delivered in seven to twelve business days. The Biden Administration has pledged to make a billion tests available by mail, although so far, “fewer than 300 million have been ordered,” according to assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz, CNN noted.
The new initiative comes as a new subvariant of the Omicron virus poses an even greater challenge for Americans. In mid-February, a team of scientists from Japan began studying the BA.2 virus — a strain that is reportedly 30% more contagious than Omicron, according to the World Health Organization. The newly discovered virus has already begun infecting people in 74 countries and 47 US states. It also appears to be somewhat resistant to the vaccine and other COVID-19 treatment measures such as “Sotrovimab,” a special intravenous drug made up of unique blood cells that have been used to treat mild to severe COVID cases in adults and pediatric patients.
While the virus does cause great concern, the Centers for Disease Control director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said there’s no evidence quite yet that suggests the BA.2 variant is more infectious than its close cousin Omicron.
“The CDC continues to monitor variants that are circulating both domestically and internationally,” Walensky said in a press conference on Feb. 18. “We will continue to monitor emerging data on disease severity in humans and findings from papers like this conducted in laboratory settings.”
Stay up to date for the second round of COVID-19 tests here.