You have three days to get your free COVID tests before the program is suspended

If you haven't already ordered your full allotment of free covid tests—Rapid Antigen Tests, specifically—from the US Postal Service site, you're almost out of time. The federal government's free testing program will be suspended soon. The Hill explains:

The federal government's free at-home COVID-19 test program will be suspended beginning Friday in response to a drop in respiratory diseases.

The Biden administration brought back the free test program last year ahead of the respiratory viral season. By going to, households could order a free pack of four at-home COVID-19 tests. This most recent batch of free tests was the sixth round made available.

The Hill also reports that "the program may be brought back again in the future as needed" and explains that the new CDC guidance is response to a "drop in respiratory diseases." Furthermore:

The updated guidance now aligns with what health experts recommend for flu or RSV infections, advising people stay home if they are sick and symptomatic, return to normal activities if their symptoms are improving and they are fever-free for 24 hours without medication.

However, many public health experts are not happy with the new CDC guidance. Forbes explains that while fewer people may be dying from COVID-19 than at the height of the pandemic, "there were still 2000 deaths per week and almost 20,000 people needing hospitalization." Additionally, the guidance points to the absence of fever as a signal that it's safe to return to work or school. But Forbes cautions against using fever as a marker of non-infectiousness:

People can't judge whether they are infectious or not. Fever is not a good barometer for Covid-19. While most transmission occurs early in the illness, 20 to 40% of people can still transmit COVID after five days, and some even longer. That's why many experts, such as Boston immunologist Michael Mina, have recommended serial Rapid Antigen Tests to stop isolation. If you have a positive RAT, you can transmit infection. Some people test positive for even two weeks, and occasionally even longer if immunocompromised.

Finally, the new guidance seems to ignore the mounting evidence that COVID-19 can cause short and long-term damage to many bodily systems, that can turn into long COVID. Again, Forbes:

The CDC and proponents of reducing isolation don't mention one critical point—the tissue damage from Covid-19. Ziyad Al-Aly, a long Covid expert at the VA St. Louis Health Care System, had an article in The Conversation this weekreviewing the toll of infection on brain health. Sequelae included an increased risk of cognitive deficits. Even with a mild infection, there was evidence that brain cells' ability to regenerate was impaired. Another new review of infection in those older than 60 found a significant risk of new-onset dementia in those post-Covid. In a new New England Journal of Medicine study, there was a decrease of "only" 3 points in IQ following Covid. While that doesn't sound like much, Al-Aly estimates "that a three-point downward shift in IQ would increase the number of U.S. adults with an IQ less than 70 from 4.7 million to 7.5 million – an increase of 2.8 million adults with a level of cognitive impairment that requires significant societal support."

One of the remaining tools available to help determine if someone is infectious are Rapid Antigen Tests—the very ones the federal government will no longer be supplying for free to U.S. households. Many individuals and groups, including the World Health Network and National Nurses United, are unhappy with the new guidance and are calling for action to urge the CDC to reconsider. Forbes provides information about who to contact, if you're concerned about the new guidance:

Some are suggesting calling the CDC at 800-232-4636 to comment. Others recommend calling your representatives (202 224-3121) and the White House at 202 455-1414.

A protest will also be happening in D.C. on March 15, opposing this decision and asking for more support and action on long Covid.

Further information about proposed changes for hospital infection control through the HICPAC committee are pending.

Click here to receive your remaining test kits. Note: if you ordered test kits in the last round in November 2023, you won't be able to get more—I tried and was told I had already reached my limit. So encourage your friends and family who haven't already ordered tests to get as many as they can before they disappear.

And, as always, stay safe out there, friends!