Americans confront Biden and Psaki over broken vow: Where are our free at-home Covid tests?

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Following announcements from both President Joe Biden and White House press secretary Jen Psaki concerning the release of free at-home COVID tests, more than 60 million households ordered them from the government but less than half of them have allegedly received the tests.

Barron’s is reporting that among 25 journalists who requested the tests the day the U.S. Postal Service website went live, only nine of them have received them as of last Thursday. Most of the journalists live in or around New York City, but the group also includes reporters from Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, and California.

The USPS website where the kits can be ordered went live on Jan. 18 and the White House claimed that they would usually ship within seven to 12 days of the order being placed.

“Due to high demand, we’re fulfilling orders as tests come in: Place your order now and it will ship as soon as tests become available. Thank you for your patience,” the site warned those who didn’t order immediately.

Fifty-five percent of New York City residents have already requested the tests from the US government Web site, according to a survey of 2,500 respondents conducted by the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health.

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed that tens of millions of the tests had been shipped, with four sent to each residential address. The Biden administration hasn’t released exact numbers yet.

Stephen Stanley, the chief economist for Amherst Pierpont, told Barron’s on Thursday that it looks like the effort missed the height of the pandemic. The website went live after Omicron infections peaked. The seven-day average of cases has declined from a recent high of 800,000 in mid-January to 415,000 as of Tuesday, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

That fact has many wondering what the point of the exercise was and why money was wasted doing it. Many are incensed that kits are allegedly coming from China where the pandemic originated.

“It’s still good for people to have access to tests, but the federal government was reactive rather than proactive, and its efforts are bearing fruit well past the point of maximum need,” Stanley noted.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients asserted that the one billion tests are in addition to the supplies of free tests headed to schools, rural and community health centers, and those that are being offered for retail sale.

When Biden vowed to mail out millions of rapid tests for free, his administration didn’t have them on hand. The government pledged $3 billion last fall to ensure supplies of tests were shipped directly from manufacturers and accelerated the regulatory process to review and authorize them, The New York Times reported.

Tests are coming from a number of contractors, including Abbott Laboratories, Roche, Quidel, Siemens Healthineers, and iHealth Labs.

Test makers are still allegedly ramping up production. An Abbott spokesperson told Barron’s on Thursday that they had “been working 24/7 to scale our operations to 100 million a month in March to support federal, state and local governments, as well as employers, schools and retail.”

Douglas Bryant, who is the president and CEO of Quidel, said that they have provided millions of tests to the federal government, and are continuing to scale production.

The U.S. has a $1.3 billion contract with iHealth, which had never made a rapid test until late last year, according to the New York Times. Jack Feng, iHealth’s chief operating officer, reports that the company is making 300 million tests a month.

While all this is going on, millions of Americans are still waiting and wondering where their free at-home COVID tests are.


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