Confirmed new COVID cases are back on the upswing, because… of course they are. To help combat the recent uptick, U.S. households are now eligible to place a 3rd order for free COVID tests. Back in January, I wrote about the 3 ways to get free COVID tests in the United States: through insurance reimbursement, at local testing sites (e.g. pharmacies, labs, etc.), and by ordering via mail through the USPS. The most popular of the 3 methods for many has been to order the tests from the federal government through the USPS, but the number of free tests was originally limited to 4 per residential address. Back in March, U.S. households could order a 2nd round of free COVID tests per residential address through the USPS. And starting this week, U.S. households can now order a 3rd round of free COVID tests through the USPS.
The government’s covidtests.gov site now states:
Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order a 3rd round of free at-home tests. Order yours today.
When you click over to the USPS COVID test order site to place your order, your are now told that you will get 8 tests (instead of the previous amount of 4):
Residential households in the U.S. are now eligible for another order of free at-home tests on USPS.com. Here’s what you need to know about your order:
- Each order now includes 8 rapid antigen COVID-19 tests
- Your order of 8 tests will come in 2 separate packages (4 tests in each package), each with its own tracking number
- Packages will ship free
It’s not entirely clear how many tests you will be sent if you have not already placed 2 separate orders. On an FAQ page to the question “Is there a limit to how many tests I can order?”, the government states:
Yes. To promote broad access, the program allows 3 orders of free at-home tests (16 tests total) per residential address.
However, since new orders come in packs of 8 and you can place 3 total orders per households, it seems plausible that households that have not placed prior test orders could receive 24 tests total instead of the noted total of 16.
Should You Place a 3rd Order for Free COVID Tests?
If you need tests, definitely order them. Personally, I’m still on my first order and won’t be placing an order right now. Use your own discretion, but note that if households with a stash of tests all put in 3rd orders it could slow down processing times for households where there is a more urgent need. Additionally, these tests come with a short shelf-life of a few months, so there is no benefit (and possible downside of not being able to order more when needed) to adding to a prior stash of test kits and then having them expire before you can use them.