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The White House plans to work with the U.S. Postal Service to mail out 500 million at-home coronavirus tests to Americans in the coming weeks to address a testing-kit shortage amid the recent omicron surge, according to a report.
Officials hope to start shipping tests within the month; they will be sent to people who request them on a yet-to-be-launched government website, the Washington Post reported, citing four sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity as the program is formalized.
The plan has yet to be officially announced. Confirmation could come as soon as next week, a source told the newspaper.
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The Biden administration awarded its first testing contract to a manufacturer Thursday, but the name of the company wasn’t reported.
The Postal Service may ask its 40,000 seasonal holiday workers to stay on to help distribute the tests, according to the Post.
Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters in a briefing Wednesday that the testing kits would start being shipped to the federal government within about a week and Americans who buy testing kits would also soon be able to get the cost reimbursed by their insurance.
The new omicron variant has caused a sharp rise in cases across the country, which coincided with the crush of cross-country holiday travel that returned to a level of normalcy after most people stayed home during Christmas 2020.
The plan is coming together as lines to get tested are beginning to grow around the country, according to the Post.
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New school guidance from the administration allowing students who test negative after being exposed to stay in the classroom is also driving up the demand for tests, The New York Times reported.