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Many Americans ordered free COVID tests, didn't use them right away

The CDC released data showing how many of the government's free COVID-19 tests went to use.
Many Americans ordered free COVID tests, didn't use them right away
Posted at 12:46 PM, Apr 25, 2023

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 3 U.S. households used free COVID-19 tests through by May 2022. 

In January 2022, the Biden administration launched the website, allowing Americans to request to the tests. The site launched amid the largest case numbers of the virus the U.S. has seen since the start of the pandemic. 

The data indicated that many people did not use their tests right away.

By May 2022, the CDC said that 70 million kits were sent to households throughout the U.S., representing 59.9% of all households. According to a survey, about 54% of those households had used a free government COVID-19 test at that point. The other 46% said they had not used the tests they received. 

SEE MORE: What happens to COVID testing when the public health emergency ends?

About 23% of those who received tests said they likely would not have gotten tested if not for the free tests. 

“These data indicate that provision of free COVID-19 tests through the program was not only widely used, but also provided a mechanism for millions of persons to receive COVID-19 testing who otherwise might not have,” the CDC report said.

Additionally, about 22.2% of those who used the tests said they experienced at least one positive COVID-19 test. 

Households making under $25,000 a year were least likely to access tests. About 18% of households in this bracket used COVID-19 tests. Among households making $25,000-$49,999 a year, about 22% used the free tests. 

The CDC reported that households making $50,000-$99,999 and $100,000-$199,999 both reported about a 27% usage of the free COVID tests. 

The government paused sending free COVID tests through the mail last fall, but brought back the site in December. Those who have requested a free COVD-19 testing kit since December are ineligible for additional tests. 

The CDC noted that some COVID-19 tests have a later expiration date than listed. Information on which COVID-19 tests had their shelf lives extended is available online. 

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