WASHINGTON (AP) — Under criticism after weeks of shortages, President Joe Biden’s administration is working to make COVID-19 rapid test kits more available and accessible to Americans by boosting supply and lowering costs. A new federal website to request free test kits launches Wednesday, with the first shipments going out to Americans by the end of the month. In addition, most Americans will be able to get reimbursed for tests that they purchase starting Saturday.
RELATED: Free at-home COVID-19 tests
Key details about the new programs:
HOW CAN I REQUEST A FREE TEST?
Starting Wednesday, Jan. 19, free tests can be ordered at covidtests.gov. The first tests will ship by the end of January. The White House says “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering” through the U.S. Postal Service. USPS reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its first-class package service in the continental United States. Shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, Army Post Office (APO), Fleet Post Office (FPO) and Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) addresses will be sent through Priority Mail.
Importantly, given the shipping and process times, Americans will need to request the tests well before they meet federal guidelines for requiring a test.
WHEN SHOULD I TEST?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at-home testing when people experience COVID-19 systems including fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms and muscle aches; five days after a potential COVID-19 exposure; or as part of test-to-stay protocols in schools and workplaces.
HOW MANY TESTS CAN I ORDER FROM THE WEBSITE?
The White House says that “to promote broad access,” shipments from covidtests.gov will initially be limited to four rapid tests per residential address, no matter the number of occupants.
IS THERE ANOTHER WAY TO GET A TEST KIT FOR FREE?
Starting Saturday, private insurers will be required to cover the cost of up to eight at-home rapid tests per month per insured person, according to a new Biden administration rule.
People will have the option of buying tests at a store or online, then seeking reimbursement from their health insurance provider. Insurers are being incentivized to work with pharmacies and retailers to develop plans to cover the cost of the tests with no out-of-pocket cost to customers, but those programs will not be immediately widespread.
Those with public health insurance through Medicare, or without insurance, will be directed to covidtests.gov to order tests or to community health centers in their area offering free testing.
HOW WILL I BE REIMBURSED?
The Biden administration says the procedures will differ from insurer to insurer, and it is encouraging Americans to save receipts from rapid test purchases for later reimbursement and to reach out to their insurance providers for information.
Critically, the requirement only covers purchases on or after Saturday. Insurers are not expected to retroactively reimburse the cost of tests purchased earlier.
WHAT ARE OTHER TESTING OPTIONS?
The Biden administration is emphasizing that the website is just one tool for Americans to access COVID-19 testing. Millions of free tests are available at participating pharmacy locations, community health centers and Federal Emergency Management Agency-backed sites in some parts of the country experiencing a surge in cases.
WHICH HOME TEST WILL I GET?
That will vary. The federal government has secured more than 420 million tests for distribution through covidtests.gov already, with plans to increase the order to 1 billion tests in the coming weeks. All of the tests supplied will be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and are capable of detecting the more-transmissible omicron variant of COVID-19, which is the dominant strain in the U.S. While they are packaged differently and may use slightly different procedures, officials said, the test mechanisms of detection and effectiveness are generally the same. All tests will come with detailed instructions.
WHY IS BIDEN BUYING THESE TEST KITS?
It represents an acknowledgement by the president that the administration needs to do more to increase access to COVID-19 testing, which is an important tool to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In cases where infected people show symptoms or not, testing is the only way to find out if they have the virus so they can avoid being out and about and potentially spreading disease.
Demand for test kits soared as the holidays neared and people grew eager to test themselves and their families before traveling and as the omicron variant spread rapidly in just a few weeks to become the dominant strain in the U.S.
Biden’s promise of 1 billion test kits is in addition to the administration’s earlier pledge to send 50 million rapid tests to community health centers across the country.
HOW MUCH WILL THE PROGRAM COST?
The White House estimates the cost of purchasing and distributing the first 500 million tests at about $4 billion. That will be paid for with money from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill Biden signed into law in March.
WILL THE GOVERNMENT PROGRAM MAKE IT HARDER FOR ME TO FIND A TEST AT THE DRUGSTORE?
White House officials say the covidtests.gov tests are coming from new manufacturing capacity and should not interfere with existing supplies that drugstores, health clinics and state governments are relying on.
Rosenberg Says He ’caused Discomfort for a Valued Colleague,’ Leading to Departure As FIU President
A statement from the now former president of Florida International University has provided new insight into his sudden departure.
In the statement, issued Sunday, Dr. Mark Rosenberg thanked the community for their concern and alluded to inappropriate conduct toward a colleague.
He said his exit from the post he held since 2009 came after years of being the caregiver for his wife.
Rosenberg wrote, “Rosalie, a Type 1 diabetic on insulin for 45 years, has advanced dementia, [multiple sclerosis], and is largely wheelchair bound. I have been her nightly caregiver for over a decade. But Rosalie’s condition entered a new stage in just the last few months, resulting in further cognitive debilitation. When I finally realized the impact that her condition had on my personal well-being in late October, 2021, I sought professional mental health services and am still under a specialist’s care.”
He went on to write, “Regrettably, these issues spilled over to my work, and I caused discomfort for a valued colleague. I unintentionally created emotional (not physical) entanglement. I have apologized. I apologize to you. I take full responsibility and regret my actions.”
Rosenberg then explained that, “In consultation with the Chair of the Board of Trustees, I realized that an immediate change would be healthy for all parties.”
Rosenberg’s departure on Friday night stunned students on campus.
“Honestly, I didn’t see it coming,” said FIU junior Maria Aguirre.
Rosenberg was the fifth president at FIU, taking the helm in 2009, and he was the first faculty member to ascend to that position. He’s credited with increasing enrollment to 58,000 students and improving the graduation rate by 23%.
“He was a really good president. I’m definitely going to remember him,” said FIU junior Katherine Cadavid.
But despite rave reviews and more than a decade of leadership, conspicuously missing from Friday afternoon’s Board of Trustees emergency meeting to appoint a new president was any mention of Rosenberg’s long list of accomplishments. In fact, his name was never mentioned at all.
The board addressed the matter in their own statement, also issued Sunday.
Dean Colson with FIU’s Board of Trustees wrote that Rosenberg’s statement “provides insight into why the Board did not believe Friday was the appropriate time to celebrate the many accomplishments of FIU the past 13 years. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the events requiring his resignation.”
The only FIU official to mention his name publicly was the school’s new interim president, Dr. Kenneth Jessell, during a taped video message released Friday night.
“I want to thank former President Mark Rosenberg for his leadership and hard work in helping to make FIU what it is today. I know that we will continue to elevate our university to new heights.”
Rosenberg said he is now seeking additional help for his wife through the “inevitable progression of her condition.”
Original Source: wsvn.com
Carvalho Hosts Last Meal Distribution in Miami Before Move to Los Angeles
Alberto Carvalho hosted his last meal distribution as superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
M-DCPS on Sunday provided 1,000 meals to local families who continue to struggle during the coronavirus pandemic.
The event, held near Northwest Eighth Street and 80th Avenue in Miami, is Carvalho’s last community feeding before he takes over the reins as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Through the Family Meals-on-the-Go program, M-DCPS has partnered with individual donors, local organizations and local restaurant owners who donate funds to purchase food from local restaurants.
Miami-Dade School Board to Interview 3 Candidates Amid Superintendent Search
Who will be Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ next superintendent? An upcoming meeting will likely prove instrumental to the three candidates currently vying for the position.
The Miami-Dade School Board has set up a special meeting on Monday afternoon. The applicants will be interviewed during the meeting.
Outgoing M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho will be replaced by either Dr. Jose Dotres, Dr. Rafaela Espinal or Jacob Oliva.
The meeting is scheduled to take place at the School Board Administration Building in Miami.
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