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As fall sets in and flu season begins, staying safe from avoidable illnesses is at the top of many families’ minds. And because the flu, common cold, allergies and COVID-19 share some symptoms, having a few at-home COVID-19 tests on hand is helpful to get answers fast. Good news: free tests are available to order online again.
Free COVID-19 tests by mail have officially returned, just in time for the changing seasons. As of September 25, 2023 — two days after the autumn equinox — every U.S. household can once again place an online order to receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests in the mail. These rapid antigen tests are available on the federal government’s dedicated site for COVID-19 tests following a significant investment in test manufacturing by the Department of Health and Human Services.
A name and a residential address are all that’s required to place an order; you don’t need to input a credit card, driver’s license or health insurance card. And if you need help placing an order, there’s a dedicated phone line available, too. Call Call1-800-232-0233 for assistance in more than 150 languages.
Taking an at-home test can help you better determine if you’re COVID-19-positive and what steps to take next. Even if you still have a few tests, placing an order guarantees you’ll have some on hand in case you or a family member feels under the weather — an especially helpful step ahead of holiday traveling and gatherings.
What to Know About the At-Home COVID-19 Tests
The at-home COVID-19 tests you can order online from COVIDTests.gov are rapid antigen tests (not the same as PCR tests) and give you a result within 30 minutes. They can be used regardless of whether you’re currently experiencing symptoms, but it’s advised to take a test if you start having COVID-19 symptoms. If you’ve been around someone who was sick with COVID-19, it’s recommended to wait until five days later to test yourself to ensure you get the most accurate result.
If your at-home test shows a positive result, take two steps: follow the CDC’s precautions and contact your primary care provider. Your doctor will help you understand what to do next and may administer a PCR test to confirm your positive result.
Remember, if you or a loved one is experiencing emergency symptoms like difficulty breathing or chest pain or pressure, don’t wait. Call 911 right away to get immediate medical care at your closest emergency room.
Double Check Before Tossing Any Older Test Kits
If you’ve got expired at-home COVID-19 tests, check the FDA’s website before you toss them out. According to the government’s COVID-19 test site, the FDA has extended the expiration date of most at-home test kits. Visit this FDA page to check whether your tests have received an extension.
Other Options for COVID-19 Testing
If you’re all out of at-home COVID-19 tests or need to get tested today, you can schedule a COVID-19 test online near you through AdventHealth Centra Care or DispatchHealth. You can also call your primary care provider’s office to ask for a test.
As always, we’re here to ensure you’re informed, supported and cared for at AdventHealth. Find COVID-19 testing information, FAQs, helpful articles and more on our AdventHealth Coronavirus Resource Hub to help you and your loved ones stay safe this season.