How to Get the Newest Batch of Free At-home COVID-19 Tests From the Government Ahead of Holiday Travel

The tests will start to ship during the week of Dec. 19th.

COVID-19 tests

Justin Sullivan / Getty Staff

The Biden administration is giving out a new round of free COVID-19 tests ahead of the holiday season and holiday gatherings.

The free rapid antigen tests can be ordered online through Each household is eligible to order four at-home tests, which will be mailed to them for free.

The tests will start to ship during the week of Dec. 19th.

“Today, the Biden Administration is announcing a plan to stay ahead of an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter,” the White House said in a statement. “While COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it once was, the virus continues to evolve, and cases are on the rise again as families are spending more time indoors and gathering for the holidays.”

In addition to the free mailed tests, Americans with health insurance plans can access eight free at-home tests each month, which can be purchased at places like local pharmacies.

The decision to distribute more free tests comes as experts warn of a “tripledemic” with a high incidence of COVID-19 cases, flu, and RSV. When it comes to COVID-19, case numbers and hospitalizations have started to rise across the country, but cases remain nowhere near the numbers from January 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Flu cases have also been increasing with the CDC estimating there have been at least 13 million illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 7,300 deaths from flu so far this season. RSV cases have started to fall, according to the agency, but the virus still remains a significant threat.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky recommended Americans be up to date with their vaccinations, including the updated COVID-19 bivalient booster, and “wear a high quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses,” including “for anyone choosing to travel by plane, train, bus or other form of public transportation.”

Dr. Helen Chu, an associate professor of allergy and infectious diseases at UW Medicine in Seattle, told The New York Times it was “a good time to mask.” 

“Given where we are right now with hospitals being at very close to capacity, especially in pediatric hospitals with R.S.V. and with flu, I think that anything that you can do to slow down community transmission is going to be helpful,” she added.

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