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Biden administration resumes free at-home COVID-19 testing program

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The Biden administration will resume its free at-home COVID-19 test delivery program starting Monday, it announced Sept. 20. The administration also announced it will invest $600 million in 12 domestic test manufacturers to bolster production.

American households will be able to order four new tests, as well as instructions on how to verify if expired tests they have are still usable. Started in January 2022, the program made free tests available until June 1, 2023, when the site stopped taking orders to conserve supplies.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have increased across the country in recent weeks. According to the most recent CDC data, there were 20,538 COVID-19 hospitalizations from Sept. 3 to Sept. 9, a 7.7% increase.

According to the Indiana Department of Health, Indiana’s seven-day average for COVID-19 hospitalizations was 47 as of Sept. 12, stable from the last count. However, cases are expected to rise as temperatures get colder due to people generally spending more time inside. Other seasonal illnesses such as influenza and RSV will also put more strain on hospitals.

[Related: Nationwide Emergency Alert Test to occur in October]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over six months old to get an updated booster vaccine for the fall and winter virus season. The CDC said that vaccination is still the best protection against COVID-19, decreasing hospitalization, death, and chances of suffering from long COVID.

Vaccinations are currently available in multiple locations around Bloomington, including CVS, Kroger and Walmart. They are also available through primary care physicians or through the Indiana Department of Health’s Vaccine Information and Planning page. Indiana residents can find a nearby vaccine location at vaccines.gov.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of updated booster vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna on Sept. 11. The new boosters, now in use, are designed to specifically target the XBB.1.5 subvariant.

Those interested in receiving an updated booster vaccine may also call 812-353-3244 to schedule an appointment at the Monroe County Public Health Clinic, open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

[Related: UPDATE: Rokita sues IU Health, alleging HIPAA violations tied to abortion case]

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