White House, USPS Finalizing Plans to Deliver COVID Test Kits to Americans

White House, USPS Finalizing Plans to Deliver COVID Test Kits to Americans usps trucks parked on street (CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 07 January 2022 10:15 AM

President Joe Biden's team was finalizing a deal with the United States Postal Service to deliver 500 million COVID-19 test kits to American households, The Washington Post reported Thursday night.

Officials want to begin shipping the kits by mid-January, the Post reported, citing four sources.

The Postal Service was negotiating with its four labor unions to extend the seasonal holiday workforce of roughly 40,000 people.

Getting tests in the hands of citizens is a key part of Biden's response to the raging omicron variant, the Post said.

A website will allow people to request the rapid tests.

The Biden administration on Thursday night awarded its first contract to one of several test manufacturers and distributors seeking to take part in the plan, the Post reported.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday the administration was finalizing contracts for 500 million rapid COVID-19 tests that it planned to distribute for free.

Last month, Psaki ridiculed the idea of mailing federally procured tests around the country.

"Should we just send one to every American?" she asked during a Dec. 6 press briefing. "Then what happens if every American has one test? How much does that cost, and then what happens after that?"

Lack of available testing for people has become a big issue as the omicron variant has replaced delta as the dominant strain.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients told reporters Wednesday that manufacturers would begin delivering tests to the federal government "over the next week or so."

Zients added that kits would "not disrupt or in any way cannibalize the tests that are on pharmacy shelves and on websites and used in other settings."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's statistics showed Friday that there had been 4,104,740 cases of COVID during the previous seven days.

Biden on Dec. 21 announced that the government would provide 500 million free rapid tests, increase support for hospitals under strain and redouble vaccination and boosting efforts.

Vanity Fair on Dec. 24 reported that Biden's White House refused an October plan by COVID-19 testing experts to put some 732 million at-home tests in the hands of the public.