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COVID-19 Tests: Updates and Your Guide to FREE Tests

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

COVID 19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise again this fall 2023 but the United States is seeing only a quarter of hospitalizations when compared to 2022 per the CDC. The COVID-19 pandemic was a challenging time for people across the United States and around the world. Now that the state of emergency has ended, testing for the virus has been a crucial tool in controlling its spread and protecting public health. The Biden administration recently announced their commitment to four free COVID-19 rapid tests delivered directly to your home beginning September 25, 2023 by the program. The program has given over 755 million tests with about half of those going to underserved communities. Existing outreach programs for the uninsured or underserved communities are available at local HRSA health centers, test to treat site, or ICATT locations. These locations allow access to low or no cost COVID 19 tests by the government. See for more information.

Current Cost of Testing, Vaccinations, and Medication for COVID-19

During the pandemic, many Americans faced barriers such as cost, availability, and long wait times for test results so all COVID testing, vaccinations, and treatment were given for free. After the nationwide state of emergency ended, free testing for COVID-19 became a service that patients had to pay for or was covered with health insurance. This fee will be applicable for most, but a limited number of free tests are now available to households across the country as stated above. COVID-19 vaccinations continue to be free for anyone living in the United States, aged 6 months and older per CDC. Additionally, anyone living in the United States now has access to two anti-virals that can be used to treat for COVID-19, if deemed appropriate by a medical provider. Paxlovid and Lagevrio (anti-virals) continue to be provided for free but should be started within 5 days from your onset of symptoms to be effective. Telemedicine services like IntervalCare Medical Services, allow you to access a provider from the comfort of home that can determine if these medications would be appropriate for you.

What if my at home COVID-19 test expired?

All at home tests that were approved by the FDA have an expiration date on the packaging. It is not recommended to use an expired test. However, some tests now have an extended expiration date. When the tests were initially manufactured, their expiration dates were conservative. Now with continued studies, some expiration dates have been extended past the date listed on the packaging. You can look for your test and if an extension applies here!

When Should I Test?

The current variants of COVID-19 are Eris and Omicron. For most accurate results with a at home rapid test, you should test at least 3 days from onset of symptoms. Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  1. Fever or chills

  2. Cough (usually a dry cough)

  3. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  4. Fatigue

  5. Muscle or body aches

  6. Headache

  7. New loss of taste or smell

  8. Sore throat

  9. Congestion or runny nose

  10. Nausea or vomiting

  11. Diarrhea

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, it's important to get tested for the virus to confirm the diagnosis and take appropriate precautions to prevent its spread to others. Testing options include PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, antigen tests, and rapid tests, which are typically conducted using a nasal or throat swab.

If you suspect you have COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, it's advisable to follow local health guidelines, self-isolate, and seek guidance from healthcare professionals on testing and further steps to take. Keep in mind that COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations can vary by region, so it's essential to follow the guidance of your local health authorities.

If you are in the state of Florida and would like to be seen by a provider for COVID-19, book a telemedicine appointment online with IntervalCare Medical Services!


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