The US Postal Service will soon be delivering free COVID-19 home tests

by mcardinal

Marion Bae, FISM News


The holiday package rush may be coming to an end, but the U.S. Postal Service is actively working with its four corresponding labor unions to extend the seasonal workforce in preparation for the upcoming distribution of 500 million COVID-19 home tests. 

President Biden announced his intention to distribute the half-billion tests on December 21st as a way to create “robust access to free testing.” This was part of Biden’s response to the Omicron surge that has swept across the nation this winter. 

The Washington Post reported the negotiations with the USPS this week, based on information from four individuals familiar with the talks, all of whom wished to remain anonymous. On Friday evening a spokesman for the Postal Service reportedly confirmed details with the Washington Post. 

In a statement, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said, “The 650,000 women and men of the United States Postal Service are ready to deliver and proud to play a critical role in supporting the health needs of the American public. We have been working closely with the administration and are well prepared to accept and deliver test kits on the first day the program launches.”

The White House declined to comment on the story. However, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did confirm on Tuesday that the administration was finalizing deals with manufacturers regarding the 500 million COVID-19 Rapid Response home kits and said they expect distribution to begin later this month. 

This time last month the press secretary was seemingly mocking the idea of government-funded tests to be distributed to the public. In a December 6th briefing she said, “Should we just send one to every American? Then what happens if every American has one test? How much does that cost, and then what happens after that?”

That attitude was short-lived, as the administration now plans to open up a website, once they have the tests in hand, where Americans can go to request the free tests. 

White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, assured reporters on Wednesday that the tests obtained by the government would “not disrupt or in any way cannibalize the tests that are on pharmacy shelves and on websites and used in other settings.”

While many may be happy with this new response, especially those who have found it difficult to obtain tests in recent weeks, Florida’s Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Lapodo, has criticized the administration’s “testing psychology,” suggesting that more testing is not what the country needs.

It’s also notable that this is not the first time during the pandemic that the federal government has thought to use the U.S. Postal Service to distribute goods to Americans. In the April of 2020 President Trump was reported to have seriously considered sending 650 million cloth masks to American households via the USPS, but ultimately decided against that approach. 

An official announcement is expected as soon as next week, and by the end of the month millions of Americans should have access to these home tests, free of charge.