The United States Postal Service recently relaunched its program that ships free at-home COVID-19 rapid tests to U.S. residents, which might come in handy after recent travel and gatherings over the holiday season.
Though the federal program was suspended on Sept. 2 due to lack of funding, the Biden administration said it was reserving a supply of tests for the winter season as a precaution for a winter surge. For those who didn’t take advantage of the free shipments available in 2022, you can now order the tests through CovidTests.gov to be delivered via USPS for the remaining winter months.
The shipment will include four individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests per household. Keep in mind, these new shipments are only available to households that did not receive the maximum amount of tests (16 in total) allocated through the program. Tests are typically sent out within seven to 12 days of an order being placed and are delivered by USPS within one to three days of shipping.
As is often the case during the winter months, COVID-19 cases have risen recently as colder weather drives people indoors, where transmission is more likely. Around this time last year, Long Beach experienced some of its highest COVID-19 positive case rates during a winter surge spurred by the omicron variants.
According to recent city data, Long Beach has again experienced a winter surge in COVID-19 cases, with the daily case rate per 100,000 people reaching a high of 22.2 and the seven-day positivity case rate reaching a high point of 16.2% in early December.
The most recent data from the city shows that those numbers fell later in December, to 7.1 daily cases per 100,000 people and a seven-day positivity rate of 13.6%.
The city has also reported three new deaths since Dec. 28, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Long Beach to 1,353.
For now, it’s too soon to say whether there’s a new uptick in transmission from Christmas and New Year’s gatherings, as it typically takes a week or two for people to feel symptoms, take tests and for the results of those tests to be reflected in city data.
LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, though, said Friday that she is optimistic that this year could mark a turning point from prior winter surges.
“I am hopeful that we can get through this winter without the devastation witnessed during our previous two winter surges, while recognizing that there are still significant risks, especially with the potential of a new COVID strain,” she said in a statement. “Collectively, our actions can make for a safe and healthy 2023 and I do want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who has been taking steps to prevent transmission, helping to lower our numbers and save people’s lives.”