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The Biden administration on Wednesday announced another $600 million in funding to produce home tests for COVID-19, and the relaunch of a website allowing Americans to order free tests.
Starting on Sept. 25, every U.S. household can order four free COVID-19 tests online at COVIDtests.gov. Since its original launch, COVIDtests.gov has shipped more than 775 million COVID-19 tests to more than two-thirds of U.S. households, according to the website.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of another possible “tripledemic” this fall and winter, which could strain hospitals if COVID, influenza and RSV all circulate and peak at around the same time. The agency said hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have been on the rise in recent weeks, and are expected to continue rising.
The CDC reported 20,538 hospital admissions for COVID-19 infections in the week ending Sept. 9, the last week for which data were available, up 7.7% from the week before, following several weeks of increases. The agency reported that deaths due to COVID-19 in the week ending Sept. 9 were up 4.5% from the week before.
In the latest forecast published Sept. 18, the agency predicted that hospital admissions will increase, with potentially up to 10,000 daily admissions reported on Oct. 16.
The agency recommended that everyone ages 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 booster vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration last week announced the approval of updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer and Moderna for emergency use.
The updated monovalent vaccines target the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant and related lineages, but vaccine manufacturers say it will offer protection against all variants currently in circulation.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday announced nine “first of their kind” grants to support Long COVID clinics, to “expand access and care, develop, and implement new or improved care delivery models, foster best practices for Long COVID management, and support the primary care community in Long COVID education.”
Each grant is worth $1 million per year for up to five years, amounting to a total of $45 million.
Long COVID is commonly characterized as symptoms and conditions that continue or develop after a COVID-19 infection, with “persistent, varying, and potentially disabling health impacts,” the agency said.
TMX contributed to this article.