US offers another round of free Covid tests by mail

Just in time for the holiday season, the Biden administration is offering new at-home coronavirus tests to Americans through the postal service.

The administration revived the dormant program in September, then announced that families could order four free tests through a federal website. Starting Monday, families can order an additional four tests — or eight tests if none were ordered in the previous round.

Hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 have been lowest during the worst stretches of the epidemic, which has claimed more than 1.1 million lives in the United States.

Hospital admissions of patients with Covid-19 spiked this summer, but they began to decline slightly in September and have been fairly steady in recent weeks. About 16,000 people were hospitalized with the virus in the week ending Nov. 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Private insurers previously required eight at-home tests per month, but that requirement ended in May with the expiration of the public health emergency for the coronavirus, making it difficult for many Americans to get the tests without running up a bill.

Separate from the Postal Service program, the federal Department of Health and Human Services says it delivers more than four million tests per week to long-term care facilities, schools, community health centers and food banks.

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