Last chance to get free COVID-19 testing kits sent to your door. How to get yours

Two years after the federal government began offering free at-home COVID-19 testing kits, the program is scheduled to be suspended March 8.

The kits were first announced in January 2022 by the Biden Administration as a way to increase access to COVID-19 testing, according to a news release.

Since then, the administration has announced multiple releases of testing kits available for all U.S. households.

Now, the program is coming to an end as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announces a significant decrease in COVID-19 isolation time and another round of vaccine boosters for older Americans.

Here is how to get testing kits before they are gone.

Ordering online

Any residential household in the U.S. can go to the USPS website to order up to four rapid antigen COVID-19 tests.

Only one order can be placed per address, the agency said.

If you placed a previous order for tests before Sept. 25, 2023, you can order again. If you have not placed an order since September, you can place two orders, according to USPS.

All orders are free to ship.

Ordering will officially close Friday, March 8, but any orders placed before that date will be fulfilled.

Do at-home COVID tests expire?

Yes, at-home antigen tests do have expiration dates.

“The expiration date is set at the end of the shelf-life and is the date through which the test is expected to perform as accurately as when manufactured,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Some COVID-19 testing kits had their expiration dates extended when the manufacturers provided data showing their efficacy after they were first authorized, the FDA said.

You can see if your COVID-19 testing kit has an extended expiration date here.

When should I test for COVID-19?

You should use a COVID-19 at-home test if you begin to have symptoms, including, but not limited to, stuffy nose, fever, shortness of breath, cough and chills.

You should also test if you know you have been exposed to someone who is positive for COVID-19, the FDA says. You should take the test five days after exposure, as testing too early can give a false negative.

The FDA also recommends using the tests if you are going to be in contact with someone who is high risk, including immunocompromised individuals and older adults, as a preventative step and avoid transmitting the virus unknowingly.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19 from an at-home test, quarantine yourself until you’ve gone 24 hours without a fever without using fever-reducing medications and your symptoms are improving, the CDC said in new guidelines announced March 1.

You can transmit the virus even without symptoms, the CDC says, so continue to wear a mask and social distance for five days after a positive test.

To prevent COVID-19 infections and severe illness, you can receive a vaccine and updated booster shots.

Vaccine locations can be found here.

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