coronavirus pandemic

White House to Make 500M At-Home COVID Tests Available for Free

The White House is setting up a website for people to submit their requests

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The federal government next month will start mailing at-home COVID test kits for free to any U.S. household that requests one, a senior administration official said, as the omicron variant of the coronavirus contributes to a spike in new cases.

The White House is preparing to ship as many as 500 million kits, and it is setting up a website for people to submit their requests, the official said, without specifying how many tests each household can receive or how quickly.

The federal government also plans to set up 20,000 new testing sites nationwide, with the first one opening in New York City before Christmas, the official said.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver a speech Tuesday about the administration's plan to combat the pandemic this winter.

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Public health officials have been cautious after the surge of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, says NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres. "We now understand we have to try and stay a step ahead of this virus - and by doing that we might shut down things that don't necessarily need to be shut down," he said. But the alternative — not being cautious — could lead to cases "getting out control."
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