As coronavirus cases surge in the U.S. again, Democrats want to get free rapid COVID-19 tests into people’s hands for regular testing.
On Wednesday, House Democrats introduced the Free At-Home Tests For All Act, which would require the federal Department of Health and Human Services to buy enough rapid, at-home tests to give two tests per week for a year to everyone living in the U.S. — for free.
The bill, led by Reps. Don Beyer (Va.), Dina Titus (Nev.), Joe Morelle (N.Y.) and Kaialiʻi Kahele (Hawaii), mandates that the tests be made available through pharmacies, schools and by online or phone order.
“As our society adapts to the threat of Covid, a major challenge that continues to confront the country is the need for more testing,” Beyer said in a news release. “All of us want a return to normalcy, and we need more accessible and affordable at-home testing to help get there.”
The lawmakers applauded President Joe Biden’s administration’s recent measures increasing the availability of free tests at community clinics, as well as requiring private insurers to cover the costs of at-home tests. But the latter does not benefit the millions of people in the U.S. who do not have private health insurance.
Earlier on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) reintroduced legislation that would allow the government to send three N95 respirator masks to everyone in the country.
The U.S. has seen a steep climb in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads. Hospitalizations and deaths remain low for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted.