Free Tests Issued During Pandemic Terminated

The federal government’s long-lasting program that provided free COVID-19 at-home tests to anyone who wanted them has ended.

The Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response announced earlier this week that the program would be ending Friday. People who tried to access the site to submit orders for free tests,, reported that they reached a dead page as early as Thursday night.

The program has been going on since last November, when residential households were able to submit an order to receive four individual rapid antigen tests.

A spokesperson for the ASPR, which operates as a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement earlier in the week:

“ASPR has delivered over 1.8 billion free COVID-19 tests to the American people through and direct distribution pathways and will continue distributing millions of tests per week to long-term care facilities, food banks, health centers and schools.

The program is now suspended after a sixth run as COVID-19 cases continue to fall around the country, the agency said. This coincides with the fact that the peak season for respiratory viruses is also winding down.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that the season’s worth might be over, but that levels of COVID-19 were still elevated in much of the nation.

As the agency said at the time:

“While the respiratory virus season is likely past its peak, it is definitely not over. There is still a lot of respiratory virus activity, so it’s not time to let our guard down.”

Data provided by the CDC shows that hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are elevated but dropping in many parts of the country. Each week, though, thousands of people are still going to the hospital for this reason.

The CDC reports that in the week ending February 24, there were more than 17,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19-related reasons.

While the free at-home COVID-19 test program is now ending, a spokesperson for the ASPR said the agency could potentially reopen the program in the future if it determined that was necessary.

Last May, the federal government suspended the program once the COVID-19 public health emergency ended. However, the program was reopened in late September, in preparation for the annual respiratory virus season as the weather cooled.

The CDC says the COVID-19 tests that are part of the program can be used if a person has symptoms or not, and that the tests should be good through the end of 2024 — despite what the expiration date on the package may say.

The US Food and Drug Administration extended the expiration dates that were posted on the packaging of the testing labels.

The CDC is still recommending that people test for COVID-19 if they have symbols such as a runny nose, loss of taste or smell, a fever or a sore throat.

The agency also suggests that people test if they’re planning to attend a large event, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.