Free COVID-19 tests are available through the mail ahead of the holidays

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The Biden administration is offering a second round of free COVID-19 tests through the mail ahead of a potential winter increase in cases. 

The website opened for new orders Monday. Households will be able to order up to four tests, though anyone who did not order a batch of four tests in September will be eligible for eight.  

The U.S. government has distributed more than 1.6 billion free COVID-19 tests to the American people, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  

HHS said it provides more than 4 million free COVID-19 tests per week directly to long-term care facilities, schools, community health centers and food banks. 

The direct mailing program was suspended at the end of May to preserve the existing supply, though HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in September the stockpile had been replenished. 

Private insurers had been required to cover up to eight at-home tests per month, but that ended when the Biden administration allowed the public health emergency to expire in May. 

Recent prices for at-home rapid COVID-19 tests average about $11 per test, according to an analysis by the health policy research group KFF.  

The new tests come as hospitalizations, deaths and emergency department visits for COVID-19 have plateaued in recent weeks after an increase earlier in the fall.  

New COVID-19 vaccines became available in September, though most Americans have said they are not interested in getting them. A KFF survey found half of all adults nationally say they would not get the latest COVID-19 vaccine, with many saying they aren’t worried about catching the virus.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just less than 15 percent of adults have received an updated shot, though the agency’s tracking ability is limited.  

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