The White House and U.S. Postal Service are “finalising” the plan to mail Americans free COVID-19 tests to their homes, according to a new report from the Washington Post that cites anonymous sources. But the website where people will be able to request the free tests still hasn’t been announced and its absence isn’t instilling confidence that President Joe Biden can actually pull this off.
The Biden administration announced on Dec. 21 that it had plans to mail out 500 million free COVID-19 tests to Americans, a response to intense blowback when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki mocked the idea of sending out free tests just a couple of weeks earlier.
Psaki’s indignant question, “should we just send one to every American?” became a depressing symbol of President Biden’s failure to control a worsening pandemic, especially at a time when other wealthy countries were already sending out free rapid tests. The White House changed course, but it has yet to prove it can deliver basic public health services in an efficient manner, instead often playing catch-up rather than being proactive about the threat of COVID-19.
The White House awarded its first contract to test manufacturers on Thursday, according to the Washington Post, and an announcement about how to get the free tests is likely to happen next week. But there’s no word yet on what domain might be used for people to request the free tests. The choice of domain will likely determine just how easy it will be for scammers to mimic the site and steal information from the millions of Americans who will likely scramble to get access.
One of the issues currently holding up deployment of the White House strategy on free tests seems to be making sure there’s enough staff at the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the tests. The USPS is reportedly working on extending the contract on its seasonal workforce, the roughly 40,000 people hired to cover the busy winter holidays season. The Postal Service moved about 13.2 billion pieces of mail and packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the Post. And adding 500 million free tests is a bit like adding another Christmas rush in January.
The U.S. reported 763,878 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to BNO Newsroom, with three states failing to contribute their daily reports. The country also reported 1,797 new deaths, with 126,166 Americans currently in the hospital with COVID-19. Deaths have plateaued but hospitalizations continue to rise as infections become more and more common with the omicron variant. Hospitalizations in the U.S. were up 6,618 from Wednesday.
Americans are toughing it out during this omicron phase of the pandemic without the financial support that came in 2020. And even though Republicans fought tooth and nail against giving the average person any kind of money, the average voter isn’t thinking about that. For most people, they know they got $US2,000 ($2,794) when Donald Trump was president and little more than encouraging words of support from Biden.
When can you expect to see those free tests in the mail? That’s still very much up in the air, but hopefully the Biden administration doesn’t fuck this one up.