US households are now eligible to order an additional four at-home Covid-19 tests — free of cost — through the government.
As of Monday, residential households in the US can submit an order through Covidtests.gov for four individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests. Orders will start to ship on Nov. 27, according to USPS. People without an internet connection can call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to request tests.
The US government had suspended the rapid test distribution program earlier in May, then reopened it in September. Residents who haven’t placed an order since the program reopened can place two orders, which will provide eight tests in total, according to USPS.
Covid-19 rapid tests can be taken at home and can be used regardless of whether someone has symptoms. The tests should work through the end of the year; some of the dates on the tests may show that they are expired, but the US Food and Drug Administration has extended those dates.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people test if they have any Covid-19-like symptoms including a sore throat, runny nose, loss of smell or taste, or a fever. People may also want to test before they are going to be a part of a large event, like a concert or a conference, particularly if people are not up-to-date on their vaccines. Antivirals are available to treat Covid-19 and flu, and testing can help determine which medication is needed.
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Covid-19 hospital admissions and emergency department visits are once again on the rise after a few weeks of downturn, according to the CDC. For the week ending November 11, the percentage of Covid-related emergency department visits was 1.4%, or just over 16,200 people — similar to rates seen throughout this month and last month.
Overall, outpatient visits for flu-like illness are lower than they were at this time last year but higher than in the previous four seasons. CDC forecasting suggests that this respiratory virus season will result in about the same number of hospitalizations as last season.
Seasonal flu activity is also increasing in most parts of the country with flu-like activity labeled as high in New Mexico, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, according to the CDC. There have been at least 780,000 illnesses, 8,000 hospitalizations, and 490 deaths from flu so far this season, the agency estimates.
More than a third of adults and nearly a third of children have gotten their flu shot this year, CDC data shows. About 14% of adults and 5% of children have gotten the new Covid-19 vaccine while 14% of older adults ages 60 and up have gotten the new RSV vaccine.
CNN’s Jen Christensen and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.