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COVID-19: Four free at-home tests available to order again as Queens neighborhoods battle infection spike

Sep. 25, 2023 By Iryna Shkurhan

With COVID-19 cases ticking back up in Queens and across the country, you can now order up to four more at-home rapid tests to be delivered to your door for free.

The initiative builds upon the Biden administration’s four previous rounds of free tests distributions. So far the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and the U.S Postal Service have delivered over 755 million tests to households across the country. Now with an additional $600 million in funding awarded to 12 domestic test manufacturers, announced on Monday, Sept. 25, COVIDTests.gov reopened for orders. 

This was Biden White House’s tacit admission last week that #CovidIsNotOver,” wrote epidemiologist and Chief of the COVID task force at the New England Complex Systems Institute Eric Feigl-Ding on Twitter. 

Over the past week, Flushing and Clearview were ranked the highest in the city for their transmission rates – 155 new cases per 100,000. Nearby Bayside and Little Neck ranked fifth on the list while Ridgewood and Forest Hills had the tenth highest rate of transmission. But transmission rates appear to be slowly declining following the summer spike, according to city data

Cases across all five boroughs began to spike in July and have steadily continued to rise during the summer. On Sept. 11, recorded cases in Queens peaked at 135 cases per 100,000 – the highest in several months. Transmission rates in Queens during the past three months were higher than in other boroughs. 

After the federal public health emergency declaration for COVID-19 ended in May, it became harder to track rates of cases. Specifically, the percent positivity of tests is no longer publicly available. Since labs are no longer required to report negative test results, percent positivity and testing rates cannot be accurately calculated making it harder to gauge how prevalent transmission is in a given area. 

COVID-19 vaccine and needle

The updated COVID-19 vaccine is also available, and doctors advise residents get it this fall.Photo via Getty Images

The tests are intended for use until the end of 2023 and the FDA warned that even if they appear to be “expired,” dates have been extended. New tests will also come with instructions on how to verify expiration dates. The FDA also confirmed that the new tests will be able to detect the latest variants. 

Results from at home tests can also be voluntarily reported at MakeMyTestCount.org to assist with public health efforts. Collected data will be shared with HHS Protect, a national database that compiles covid data from 300 sources –  but will remain anonymous. 

The rollout also coincides with the availability of the updated COVID-19 vaccine, which the CDC is recommending for anyone six months and older. The vaccine was redesigned to protect against newer variants and boost existing protection against the virus. Vaccines are available to those who are uninsured and are accessible regardless of immigration status. 

Free tests can be ordered at https://www.covid.gov/tests and will ship the first week of October. Vaccination sites near you can be found at https://vaccinefinder.nyc.gov/

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