A new round of four free COVID-19 tests is available for order from the federal government, the U.S. Postal Service announced Monday.
The free additional tests are being made available as health officials prepare for an expected resurgence in the virus due to holiday gatherings and the ongoing cold and flu season.
Tests will start shipping for free starting the week of Nov. 27, the USPS says on its ordering website.
Tests also can be ordered online at COVID.gov, same as the last round of free tests offered in September.
Households that didn't order in September will be able to place two orders at the same time, for a total of eight free COVID-19 tests.
About 56 million tests have been delivered so far this season, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That means about 14 million American households have requested tests.
HHS supplies the tests out of a stockpile of previously purchased kits.
Some kits might show expired dates, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the expirations of many home COVID-19 tests.
The COVID.gov and USPS websites urge people to check the expiration date of COVID-19 tests they have on hand against dates posted at the FDA website, to avoid tossing out still-good tests that bear an now-inaccurate past-due expiration date.
Health officials are urging Americans to use COVID-19 tests whenever sick, to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. People who test positive are urged to isolate, even if they aren't symptomatic.
COVID-19 testing also can help people detect their illness early enough to seek out a course of Paxlovid, the antiviral medication approved to prevent severe illness.
Health officials have been closely tracking COVID-19 data, and expect cases to increase this winter.
ER visits and hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 infections have started to rise slightly nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COVID-19 still makes up the largest share of ER visits for viral respiratory illnesses in the U.S., despite flu and RSV trends accelerating in recent weeks, CBS News says.
Officials also are asking people to take other steps to protect their health and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"I hope you're still wearing masks when you need to. I hope you're getting that updated vaccine," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra told a group of public health organizations last week, according to CBS News.
Becerra said he recently got back from a cross-country flight with his 90-year-old mother.
"There weren't many people masked, but we were, thank God. Actually, she's the one that brought out the mask first and reminded me, because the last thing I need is for her going into Thanksgiving to have contracted COVID," Becerra said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about ordering free at-home COVID tests.
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