WASHINGTON — Want a free COVID-19 fast test from the federal authorities? Then hurry up and wait.
The White House introduced Friday that its website for Americans to request the coveted assessments will go stay Jan. 19 — earlier than acknowledging that orders will “typically” ship 7-12 days after they’ve been positioned.
That lag time, adopted by extra days to ship the packages, means folks requesting assessments (as much as 4 per tackle) must submit their orders earlier than they expertise signs. It’s additionally conceivable that Americans could bear a full viral cycle within the time it takes to order and obtain one test.
In addition, it’s unclear if the primary kits will arrive earlier than Omicron circumstances start to drop considerably throughout the nation.
The launch of COVIDTests.gov can be carefully watched by President Biden’s critics, who’ve faulted him for rejecting an skilled proposal to mass-distribute free assessments to households earlier than Christmas to forestall a winter surge of infections.
A bungled rollout of the website or subsequent distribution points could badly harm Biden’s already-damaged credibility on managing the pandemic.
Another high-profile website rollout, the Obama-Biden administration’s Healthcare.gov, become a technical and public relations fiasco in 2013 regardless of large investments of money and time in its creation.
The launch of COVIDTests.gov comes 4 weeks and two days after the White House first briefed reporters on the plan Dec. 20, and it’ll occur the identical day Biden hosts his second solo press convention on the White House.
The US Postal Service will handle the packaging and supply logistics for the mass-distribution drive. Biden mentioned earlier this week that he would increase the initiative from 500 million to 1 billion assessments.
Retailers similar to CVS Pharmacy stay offered out of test kits at some places and big strains proceed to be seen at official test websites, forcing FEMA to open federally run testing websites in hard-hit areas two years into the pandemic.
Some main cities alongside the East Coast, together with Boston, Washington, New York and Philadelphia, are reporting slight drops in new infections. Officials say that will trace that Omicron circumstances are about to drop quickly, as seen in different international locations similar to South Africa.
Biden embraced the concept of mass-distributing the fast assessments late final month because the milder, but extra contagious Omicron variant triggered surges in coronavirus infections as a result of giant numbers of breakthrough circumstances in absolutely vaccinated folks.
The White House reportedly rejected an skilled plan in October that will have applied the distribution plan earlier than the autumn and winter wave of circumstances hit.
Follow the most recent information on the Omicron variant with the New York Post’s stay protection
Experts from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, the COVID Collaborative and different teams pitched a 10-page plan to White House officers on Oct. 22 that referred to as for (*19*) Vanity Fair reported.
Biden has denied spiking the concept — regardless of not adopting it when it was initially proposed.
“We didn’t reject it,” Biden instructed The Post on the White House garden final month. A White House official later argued that Biden was telling the reality and that “the characterization of ‘rejection’ is not an accurate reflection of a productive meeting, and in fact, we are implementing many measures that were discussed as capacity now allows us to do.”
Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response on the Department of Health and Human Services, mentioned Tuesday at a Senate listening to that the Biden administration had contracted for simply 50 million test kits to this point out of the initially introduced 500 million.
Republicans and Democrats alike have blasted the Biden administration for not doing extra to take care of the excessive manufacturing capability for fast assessments. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has famous that corporations like Abbott Labs, which has two manufacturing crops in her dwelling state, laid off tons of of staff in summer season 2021 in response to declining demand.
“The money was there. The manufacturers were ready. The employees were there. The manufacturing lines had been ramped up and the administration made a critical error in scaling back dramatically, in the midst of the pandemic, the number of tests that it ordered,” Collins told WGME Friday. “I just don’t understand it.”
Meanwhile, 5 Senate Democrats referred to as on White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients this week to clarify “why the Administration failed to take more significant steps earlier to increase access to at-home tests.”
Biden has scrambled to deal with testing woes linked to the Omicron variant. Beginning Saturday, medical insurance corporations are required to reimburse policyholders for as much as eight fast assessments per 30 days.
Studies point out that Omicron signs are much less extreme, notably amongst vaccinated individuals who obtain a “booster” shot, but the massive quantity of recent circumstances remains to be inflicting hospitalization charges to surge throughout the nation.
More than 149,000 US hospital sufferers had COVID-19 as of Wednesday — in comparison with the pre-Omicron US file of 133,000 in January 2021.
More than 1.35 million US residents examined constructive for COVID-19 on Monday, in line with CDC data — greater than 4 occasions final winter’s peak of 294,000 circumstances on Jan. 8, 2021. The true case load is believed to be a lot greater as a result of many individuals are asymptomatic or don’t report the outcomes of at-home assessments.