Today President Biden will announce the distribution of 500 million free at-home rapid tests beginning January 2022. Tests will be mailed to homes by request via a new website to be set up by the administration. The president will also announce the establishment of new federal testing sites around the country and the continued use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to accelerate the manufacture of at-home and point-of-care tests.
This latest announcement comes amidst a surge in COVID-19 infections across the country, largely driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. Free government-distributed at-home lateral flow testing has been available throughout much of the pandemic in countries including the United Kingdom, where individuals are able to pick up free tests at pharmacies or request two free at-home lateral flow tests to be mailed to their homes each week.
Biden is also expected to announce increased support for hospitals, which is expected to include the mobilization of 1,000 troops—including military doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical personnel—as needed in January and February; the deployment of six emergency response teams comprising more than 100 clinical personnel and paramedics to six states: Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, New Hampshire, and Vermont; the activation of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Response Teams to work with every state and territory to assess seasonal needs and begin expanding hospital bed capacity as well as deploy hundreds of additional ambulances and emergency medical teams ahead of the winter surge; and the provision of supplies, such as N-95 masks, gloves, gowns, and more than 100,000 ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile.
In an effort to increase vaccination uptake, the Biden administration will deploy hundreds of additional vaccinators in 12 states, Tribes, and territories. Health and Human Services (HHS) will amend the PREP Act Declaration to allow pharmacists and pharmacy interns to administer more vaccinations in order to support the demand for vaccination and booster appointments nationwide. In addition, FEMA will launch pop-up vaccination clinics across the country—including a mobile clinic in Washington and four mobile units in New Mexico.