Free COVID-19 Tests Available For Every MD Home

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Four more free COVID-19 tests are available for order to Maryland residents. The tests include rapid antigen at-home tests similar to the ones pictured above. They are not PCR tests. (Rachel Nunes/Patch)

Patch manager Deb Belt originally posted this story.

MARYLAND — Residents in Maryland can once again order four more free at-home COVID-19 tests from USPS.com, courtesy of the federal government.

Every home in the United States can order an additional four free tests, officials said on Covid.gov. Orders began Nov. 20, and those who did not order free tests over the fall can place two orders for a total of eight tests. Orders will ship starting the week of Nov. 27. You can fill out a form with shipping information here.

The tests should work through 2023, though some dates may show old expiration dates. The FDA has extended those dates, however.

Nationally, about 18,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Nov. 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New COVID-19 hospitalizations remained low — below 10 per 100,000 — in 85 percent of U.S. counties, the CDC data showed. About 13 percent of counties are seeing medium hospitalization levels, and about 2 percent are seeing high levels of hospitalizations, or at least 20 per 100,000 people.

Snapshot of COVID-19 In Maryland, as of Nov. 18:

  • New hospital admissions of confirmed COVID-19, past week (total): 293
  • Percent change in hospital admissions from prior week: Up 17.2 percent
  • New COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 residents, past week (total): 4.85
  • Total hospital admissions since August 2020: 98,800

The tests available for order include rapid antigen at-home tests (not PCR). They can be taken at home or at other locations, and give results within 30 minutes with no lab drop-off required. Additionally, the tests can be used even if no symptoms are present, and whether the individual has received vaccines or not.

“The U.S. government will continue to make COVID-⁠19 tests available to uninsured individuals and underserved communities through existing outreach programs,” the government said. “Please contact a HRSA-funded health center or Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) location near you to learn how to access low- or no-cost COVID-⁠19 tests provided by the federal government.”

Individuals can report test results here to help with public health efforts. The government encouraged people to take an at-home test if they come in close contact with someone who has the virus, or if they start to show symptoms such as fever, sore throat, runny nose or loss of sense of taste and smell. People who come in contact with others who are not up to date on their vaccinations, or who come in contact with people at risk of severe disease, are also encouraged to take a test.

Those who test positive should follow CDC guidance on self-isolating, even if they are vaccinated, officials said. This means staying home for at least five days and isolating from others in the home. You are likely most infectious during the first five days.

"If you have COVID-19, you can spread the virus to others,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes on its website. “There are precautions you can take to prevent spreading it to others: isolation, masking, and avoiding contact with people who are at high risk of getting very sick. Isolation is used to separate people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from those without COVID-19.”

If you test negative, you can end your isolation, the CDC said.

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