Feds to end free at-home COVID testing program this week – New Hampshire Bulletin

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Those who planned to order their free COVID-19 tests from the federal government but never did should hurry. The US Department of Health and Human Services announced on Monday that it would suspend the program on Friday, citing funding.

Tests and tests remain available throughout New Hampshire at pharmacies and doctor’s offices, but not by mail.

The news from the federal government comes as COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations have declined. But public health experts have expressed concern that the numbers could climb when cold weather pushes people indoors and holidays bring large groups together.

An alert at the top of the Federal Health and Human Services testing website (covid.gov/tests) says, “Congress has not provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s testing stockpile.”

People can place orders for free home tests through the federal program until Friday, unless they have already exceeded the limit of 16 tests per household.

Those looking for tests locally can purchase them at most pharmacies or liquor stores in the state. The “Resources” page of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 website (covid19.nh.gov) has an extensive list of hospitals, urgent care clinics, and doctor’s offices, with contact information, that offer testing.

The department says many health insurance plans cover the cost of COVID-19 testing without a copay or deductible for people with symptoms of COVID-19. Those without insurance or a plan that does not fully cover the cost may be eligible for coverage through a Medicaid COVID-19 plan. The department directs this group to submit a request by nheasy.nh.govunder “COVID-19 Group”.

Deaths attributed to COVID-19 have declined significantly in New Hampshire since peaking in December. In its latest COVID-19 update, released Thursday, the department said three people had died of COVID-19 in the previous week. The number of people currently infected with COVID-19 is unreliable because not all positive test results are reported to the department. As of Tuesday, 30 hospitals were treating 30 people for COVID-19 and 30 who were no longer contagious but remained too sick to be discharged, according to the New Hampshire Hospital Association COVID-19 Website.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 72% of Granite Staters are fully vaccinated, 48% have received their first booster dose and 29% have received a second dose. People 6 months and older are eligible for a vaccine. The state Department of Health and Human Services has a directory of vaccination sites on its website at vaccines.nh.gov.

The White House had requested $22.5 billion in pandemic spending to cover testing and other responses to COVID-19 as part of a $1.5 trillion spending bill. Funding was eliminated due to disputes over how it would be paid.

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