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Federal government is distributing free COVID-19 tests. Here's how to get them.

With the holidays behind us, demand for at-home COVID-19 tests is still high because of schools' need. [Stephanie Czekalinski / Ideastream Public Media]
Pharmacy website shows several brands of at-home COVID-19 tests are out of stock

Americans are now able to order up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household from Uncle Sam at https://www.covidtests.gov/.

The tests are completely free, according to the website. There is no charge for shipping and customers will not have to enter a credit card to receive the tests.

The test distribution comes at a time when much of the country is battling a surge in cases fueled by the omicron variant. That surge hit Northeast Ohio just before the holidays, driving demand for tests through the roof as people scoured pharmacy shelves and websites for tests in an effort to get-together with loved-ones safely.

President Joe Biden announced Friday that his administration had purchased 500,000 kits to be mailed to American households within seven to 10 days of ordering. 

The rollout comes at a time when there is some indication that the demand for tests is leveling off in Northeast Ohio.

Posts on social media sharing information on where to find tests peaked shortly before the holidays and appear have taken on a less urgent tone. The final day of testing at the W.O. Walker community testing center will be Jan. 23. On Sunday, Summit County Public Health closed the drive-thru PCR testing location that opened shortly before New Year’s Eve. 

But at home tests are still in short supply. A search on CVS, Walgreens and WalMart websites Tuesday showed that many of the tests were still out of stock.

And although the holidays are over, the effort to keep staff and students safe from infection while remaining open for in-person learning continues to drive demand for tests.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health said it would prioritize use of its stockpile for K-12 schools and colleges and universities, due to a delay in shipment of more than 800,000 tests. 



Stephanie is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.