How to get your free covid-19 home tests from the U.S. government

July 25, 2022 • 9:00 am

Just a note that all Americans are now entitled to their third free set of rapid antigen test kits for covid-19.  Most of you are familiar with these: you swab your nostrils, swirl the swab in a special liquid, and then squeeze the liquid into a depression on a small plastic device (first picture below) In 15 minutes you get a simple readout that says whether or not the kit has detected antigens: the spike proteins presented by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is responsible for COVID-19. (The vaccine is designed to prompt your body to produce antibodies to these antigens.)

The devices look like this; you also get a swab, a vial of liquid, and detailed instructions with diagrams.

And the results look like this after 15 minutes. If you have the one on the left with a “C”, no antigen was seen; you’re negative. (That does not mean for certain that you’re free from infection; these tests do give false negatives.) If you have two lines, at both site “C” and site “T”, you have antigen and are infected (again, there can be false positives).  A faint line a “T” still indicates infection.

These are not as good as PCR tests, which remain the gold standard for testing for covid, but they’re useful to have around, and when I was feeling stuffy the other day, I gave myself two tests a day apart (I was fine.)

I think they’re expensive if you buy them, but the U.S. government is sending Americans two free kits in a third round of distribution. Each kit has FOUR tests, so you can test yourself eight times. (It’s easy to do!).

To get yours, and you should get them now, go here to the government website, which explains the kits and allows you to order by phone, or go here to order them by email, as I did, by clicking on the blue button the first website. All you do is fill in your name and address, and the Postal Service will ship you two packages of four kits. There is no charge for anything, but be sure to push the green checkout button.

Two points. I’m not a doctor, so ask your physician for help in interpreting the results or finding out when to test and what to do if you are positive. Also, this is for American citizens only, provided as a service by the gubmint.

13 thoughts on “How to get your free covid-19 home tests from the U.S. government

  1. My government issue test informed me yesterday that I have Covid-19. Now I await a call from the pharmacy telling me to pick up my Paxlovid. I’m not really enjoying my encounter with the virus.

  2. Thanks for this information. The process is super easy, and if (like us) your test kits from earlier offerings are now past their expiration date, the prudent thing to do is to get more now.

  3. Thanks for the information jerry. I also am not a doctor but am married to a nurse who tries to keep me straight. So, I would like to pass on two additional points: 1. These test kits do have expiration dates and ones that we got around the first of the year are approaching the end of their shelf life so we just got a new supply. 2. You will likely need to use at least two tests for each incident: for consecutive day testing to rule out false positives and negatives as jerry did plus, if positive and symptomatic, to confirm a negative test after symptoms disappear.

  4. Hope you have an easy time of it! I just got my 4th shot (Moderna), and as I do i feel like a truck has run over me. It is still worth it, though.

    1. I got my 4th shot last week of Pfizer and I got the regular migraine with it. Ugh I hate it but I’d hate the virus worse which I guess I can still get especially because work seems determined to force us all back and sit in shared spaces without masks.

  5. Thanks, Jerry. I had missed the latest notification. Despite have grandchildren in grade school, we have managed to escape the virus, but I need to fly to Texas soon, and I’m very concerned. Wish me luck!

  6. …antigens: the proteins your body produces to attack the antibodies (spike proteins) presented by the covid virus.

    You have this backwards.

    Better (and with formally correct additions): …antigens: the (spike proteins) presented by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is responsible for COVID-19 and which the vaccines elicit an antibody response to..

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