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COVIDtests.gov – Free at-home Covid-19 tests (covidtests.gov)
104 points by aaronbrethorst 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 105 comments

For a brief while after getting vaccinated, before Delta and Omicron, my friends, coworkers, and I felt we were out of the woods. We are actively going out together to our favorite hangouts and being normal. I didn't think we would need this site.

Finding out that my Governor let a million tests expire rather than give them out, make me happy this site is available. I'm glad I can rely on the federal government to fix what my state government is ruining.

You're out of the woods. If you're vaccinated then unless you have some high risk condition your real risk is extremely low.

More tests aren't going to solve anything. At best they might slow the spread down only slightly. In the long run everyone will be exposed regardless of whether they go to their favorite hangouts or not. That is our reality.


> In the long run everyone will be exposed regardless of whether they go to their favorite hangouts or not. That is our reality.

This can be said of every cold and flu season. Yet people still go out of their way to avoid those who are sick, and people who have symptoms stay home. You probably wouldn't want someone with the flu to cough in your face, even though the symptoms are mild and the mortality is low.

covid is much more infectious than the flu. it makes sense to test and quarantine if you are positive.

> "If you're vaccinated... your real risk is extremely low."

in the interest of precision: the risk of serious sickness/death is low for anyone without comorbidities (like age) regardless of vaccination status; vaccination just makes a small chance smaller, with the diminishing returns that that implies.

vaccination really matters for anyone with comorbidities (age, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, etc.), where risk reduction is significant (whole percentages to fractional ones).

totally agree that testing doesn't change long-run exposure, especially given omicron. the big win for testing though, is knowing how many folks have natural immunity (with or without synthetic immunity), which likely offers broader spectrum immunological memory, imbuing a more durable herd immunity into the future. also, tests might help at the margin for those who have comorbidities, to perhaps allow the pursuit of treatments like monoclonal antibodies earlier.

The government is distributing antigen tests. They don't directly indicate anything about natural immunity, although of course most patients who recover from infection will retain a significant level of cellular immunity.

Doctors don't prescribe monoclonal antibodies or other anti-viral drugs based on a home test. That usually requires a clinical test, as well as some significant symptoms or risk factors.

yes, i wasn't trying to imply that monoclonals would be prescribed based on a home test, just that testing early would provide someone the opportunity to get more aggressive treatments if need be during the critical window of effectiveness.

not sure why the tests being antigen-based matters with regard to indicating natural/cellular immunity, since a positive test result still implies a covid infection in the recent past, which implies a conferral of natural immunity?

A quick positive test could get you a Paxlovid prescription, while it's still early enough in the course of infection to have maximal benefit.

Physicians will generally not prescribe Paxlovid based on a home test, they want to see the results of a real clinical test. And Paxlovid supplies are very limited; it will typically only be given to symptomatic patients in high risk groups.

It still sucks to get Covid, based on my small sample size of a few breakthrough infected friends even "mild" omicron is on par with a bad flu. It's also about 10x as contagious. Most people don't want to infect all their friends if they can help it, so they test.

Also we all have friends and family members with high-risk conditions and don't want to give it to them either.

I understand that people don't want to get infected, but that doesn't change the reality that everyone will be exposed.


The virus isn't going away. No one will be able to avoid it without living as a hermit. The CDC estimated that about 44% of Americans had already been infected as of October 2021 and with the more contagious Omicron variant now circulating we're probably well over 50%.


Additional home testing is largely a feel-good measure. It might ease some people's anxiety but won't significantly change the course of the pandemic.

I have an under 5 year old offspring that isn't eligible to get the shot yet. Once he gets them this year I will definitely be breathing easier.

Fortunately the CDC data shows that the risk to young children is very low. Probably less than other common viruses like RSV.



If it's any consolation it's doing the rounds in my 7-year-old's class and none of them have had much worse than feeling a bit achy with a bit of a temperature. They've all had much worse from the usual bugs that do the rounds at school. Of course this is anecdata, and most people have family or friends who are vulnerable and need to be protected, but if it's just about your child then it's very unlikely to be a problem if they have no underlying conditions.

>If it's any consolation it's doing the rounds in my 7-year-old's class and none of them have had much worse than feeling a bit achy with a bit of a temperature. They've all had much worse from the usual bugs that do the rounds at school. Of course this is anecdata

You aren't crazy. Here's some actual data from the CDC: a child is at least 25 times less likely to be covid hospitalized than an adult under age 50, and 74 times less likely than an someone over age 50. Important caveat that this data is pre-omicron. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6915e3.htm

>most people have family or friends who are vulnerable and need to be protected

Couldn't agree more.

Are these kids vaccinated? One of the challenges we have now is making sure to make sure to correct for that since vaccination's protection against severe outcomes has been quite durable even in the face of Omicron's improved evasion.

>vaccination's protection against severe outcomes has been quite durable even in the face of Omicron's improved evasion.

Very interested if you have a source for this claim, as I have been looking for one.

The data is still incomplete since hospitalization is a lagging indicator but here's some data from the UK earlier today. See Table 2:


44% reduction after 6 months is not great but that's still significantly better than under 20% for preventing symptomatic cases which you have for a 2 dose vaccinated person facing Omicron half a year later.

Thanks. I had seen this data but forgot about it. Appreciate you finding it. Definitely nice to see some protection against severe outcomes remains even if prevention of infection isn't quite as there as we'd like.

However I am not sure if we had started this pandemic with Omicron and a 44% effective vaccine, that we would have put all our eggs in one basket the way we have to date. Hindsight is 20/20, of course.

No, none of them are vaccinated.

For the curious, Florida Gov Desantis revealed they'd let 800,000 to 1 million tests expire sitting in a warehouse. The federal govt granted an exception and they're being sent out to be used at testing sites. These aren't at-home tests.

Wouldn't over-ordering be better than under ordering?

They weren't over ordered. The evidence strongly supports that they were purposely held back by the DeSantis administration and the Florida Department of Health while pushing monoclonal antibodies [2].

> Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said last week that the tests weren't distributed because of "low demand." [1]

> Florida residents have also described months of difficulty getting tests, with long lines and few testing appointment available. [1]

I haven't filed the relevant FOIA requests myself, but Florida open government and transparency laws are fairly robust for those who are inquiring in this specific matter.

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-tests-expired-florida-fda...

[2] https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/coronavirus/2022/01...

There's also a lot of evidence desantis 'hacked' test result reporting and nursing home deaths too.

It's more complicated than a headline, but it's a really bad look to raid someone who was trying to get info out - even if their goal was political it should have been public information and that just intimidates future whistleblowers.



How would they know to use the antibodies if they didn't test people first? The [2] article you linked refer to vaccines not tests. I think you're missing something in your explanation here.

Desantis et al have been actively discouraging testing of asymptomatic people with confirmed exposures.

>For a brief while after getting vaccinated, before Delta and Omicron, my friends, coworkers, and I felt we were out of the woods. We are actively going out together to our favorite hangouts and being normal. I didn't think we would need this site.

You seem to be describing what journalist Alex Berenson has coined the "happy vaccine valley":

>the three-to four-month period following the second dose when antibodies are high enough that the vaccines actually appear to work. (For those of you keeping score at home, that’s two weeks of negative efficacy after the first shot, a month of maybe 50% efficacy, three months of near-complete protection, and then a rapid fall to what looks like 0% protection within three months. https://alexberenson.substack.com/p/so-you-understand-whats-...

Of course that description was written in Sept 2021 based on pre-Omicron data, and the picture is different now. The latest data: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.07.22268919v...

See Figures 1 and 2 above. This study from California in December shows much lower protection from the current vaccines against Omicron compared to Delta: 0% effectiveness of a 2-dose regimen at 6+ months, and 49% effectiveness of a 3-dose regimen at ~2+ months.

Alex Berenson is not a journalist but a conspiracy theorist with no relevant training or experience. He is not a good source of advice on vaccination.

The Kaiser-Permanente study you linked is by actual medical experts and it paints a more nuanced perspective which is why it contradicts his claims — for example, they have the two dose effectiveness at preventing infection by Delta over 50% even a year out.

Most importantly, and the main reason I'm replying to this, is that it's _really_ important to also remember that there are two reasons to get vaccinated. One is to prevent infection entirely (largely a product of neutralizing antibodies, which fade relatively quickly) but the other is to lower the severity of an infection (a product of T cells, which is longer lasting) and the data continues to show that vaccines remain highly effective considerably longer than 3 months:


Promoting the voices of antivaxers like Alex Berenson is the single most effective way to prolong the pandemic since the thing which will allow us to return to normal will be high levels of vaccination reducing the severity of an infection to manageable levels.

Berenson did a turn on the pharmaceutical and healthcare beat at the New York Times, that has to count for something. However I will remember to censor myself better in the future. bows reverently to a shrine of the approved narrative

Thanks for at least looking at the data and not dismissing it out of hand.

The article you link above to support vaccine effectiveness refers to three studies, all of which are pre-Omicron (the first looks at Jul '21 to Oct '21, the second specifically at Alpha and Delta variants, and the third from Dec '20 to Sep '21). A key point of my comment was do show that, with the advent of Omicron, the playing field has changed substantially, which your data do not address - but my data did.

I didn't and wasn't telling people not to get vaccinated. I believe, though, that there is a world where we can simultaneously talk about how the vaccine doesn't work as well as it should or could, and look to better solutions, including a new or improved vaccine.

> Berenson did a turn on the pharmaceutical and healthcare beat at the New York Times, that has to count for something.

Not really, he was a business reporter with no medical training — he came to the NYT from The Street, and after he left to become a novelist his only subsequent non-fiction (kind of) work was a book alleging that cannabis usage causes psychosis, which got him considerable criticism from actual scientists.

> However I will remember to censor myself better in the future. bows reverently to a shrine of the approved narrative

It's not censorship to suggest being less credulous and finding people who know what they're talking about to get advice from. It's not hard to find scientists who disagree with each other — it's a defining characteristic! — but he's not a scientist or even amplifying a significant group of scientists, and the ones who mention him do so to say that he's dangerously wrong. The most obvious giveaway is that he started with a paranoid conclusion rather than a falsifiable theory and when whatever he's saying is debunked he switches to something else which conveniently still supports the same conclusion. Even Fox News backed away from giving him a pulpit!


Measuring vaccine effectiveness in terms of protection against infection (as in the article you linked) is pointless. We expect almost everyone to get infected. What actually matters is protection against severe symptoms, and even with the Omicron variant the vaccines are still pretty good at that.


I was responding to a specific comment, which seemed to be referring to rising case counts. I agree it's likely that almost everyone will get infected, many have been saying this for two years.

As for "what actually matters," that entirely depends on the problem you are trying to solve, the solutions you are putting on the table, and the human value systems at play.

Omicron has been strikingly mild, regardless of vaccination status. A new study of over 52,000 infected found "zero cases with Omicron variant infection received mechanical ventilation." https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.11.22269045v...

From the paper: Conclusions: VE of 3 mRNA-1273 doses against infection with delta was high and durable, but VE against omicron infection was lower. VE against omicron infection was particularly low among immunocompromised individuals. No 3-dose recipients were hospitalized for COVID-19.

Did people who wanted to get vaccinated not find doses in stock?, just because tests in some warehouse expired doesn't mean they were hidden to stop their usage.

"Ordering begins January 19."

I see they have this behind Akamai. That's a good thing because my first thought was "Man, I hope they have this site behind a good load balancer!"

a viral load balancer

How is this only happening now? Do any states already do this?

In the UK we’ve been able to order a box of 7 lateral flow tests, for free (no shipping costs either), once per day, since last April. In other words 49 tests per week (per household). They’re not a perfect solution (since you can test negative when in the very early stages of an infection I believe) but they’re pretty good. They’ve made all of my group interactions so much safer, particularly during this latest wave, and have saved me from hanging out with people who are positive (and asymptomatic at the time) on numerous occasions.

The British government is a joke and they’ve still managed to get basics like rapid testing and vaccinations right. How can a country with resources like the US not have this available?

Colorado did. I got a couple free tests mailed to me.

But agree it should have been done nationwide. Same with masks. Trump canceled the idea of USPS mailing free masks and at least one supplier publicly complained he couldn't get a federal commitment for long term production.

When I visited France last summer during low point tests where available everywhere and super cheap.

There's a dead comment (so I can't reply to it) wondering how much these cost. In October, it was reported that US states were overpaying compared to Europe [1]:

> Rapid antigen tests can cost as little as $2 each to make, according to Mologic, one of the largest British testmakers. But in the United States, bidding wars between health systems, state governments, and employers have contributed to much higher prices. ... In Germany, large government purchases allow it to offer rapid tests to residents for less than $1 each

Here in Denmark, they're about 25kr ($4) each in shops, or a little less if ordered online. However, most people go to the public test centres, which are free. (We've reached an average of 19 tests per person, which I think doesn't include home tests.)

[1] https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/...

> In Germany, large government purchases allow it to offer rapid tests to residents for less than $1 each

I bought some at Lidl and Aldi for less then 1€ a few months ago. You can buy them almost everywhere, the current price is ~2-3€ now. I don’t really see what the government has to do with this, they don’t sell tests as far as I understand.

The cheapest I've seen in U.S. retail was $7.50 / test ($15 for 2-pack) from Wal-mart, which has recently increased to $10 / test.

Christ, I can go to a chemist and get a pack of 7 free of charge, or order online for next day delivery.

By the time you think you need one, and the delay in shipping, its already too late. But its something, I guess. My wife needed a test, 3 weeks ago and I believe she is still waiting for them to arrive from the State.

Rapid tests need to be on-hand prior to the time that you need them.

I figured this out last time I wanted one and had to search all over several towns to finally find just one single box left. At that point, I ordered a bunch for my company and let my employees know we've got them so that they can have one pretty quickly when they need one without them all having to stockpile them personally. Helps them, and hopefully helps me keep sick employees away from the factory.

> By the time you think you need one, and the delay in shipping, its already too late.

You will need these for the next wave, and no, getting COVID doesn't prevent getting it again in the future - reinfections of already infected are rife with Omicron.

Why? It’s endemic. Unless your treatment depends on knowing which specific respiratory virus you have, getting tested doesn’t really tell you anything new. You are sick. Stay home. Get rest.

Too bad they couldn’t partner with Amazon and have a “get it by tomorrow” option.

As long as the current COVID protocols stay in place (people needing or feeling they need to get tested after every possible COVID exposure, testing young children any time they have a runny nose so they can go to daycare, etc), I doubt that the supply chain will ever be able to support the number of tests demanded. If you run the numbers it's pretty insane how many of those test-kits would be needed.

I mean without understanding the material constraints behind manufacturing of the tests it would be hard to say what the upper limit of our ability to manufacture them really is. We make lots of things in large quantities if we really need them.

It's a crying shame that we didn't have two years of warning to get production up to meet demand.

Amazon's own private (in stock) Covid PCR test collection kits take at least 3 days to deliver. There's no "get it by tomorrow" option. That may end up being faster delivery than covidtests.gov, but let's not pretend that Amazon is the one to save us.

In an ideal setup they’d have sufficient tests stored in Post Offices for next day delivery.

Logistically speaking, I wonder how partnering with Amazon was not the cheapest and fastest solution.

Or even Walmart. Most of my BinaxNow tests shipped via Walmart within a week.

In a sense, that's what happened for three months last year. The government worked w/ Walmart (and, I think Amazon and another retailer) to sell the BinaxNow tests at cost and ship them to consumers.

* Yes, "at cost" != free - but the idea was to leverage the retailers' distribution capabilities.

I ordered two more on Amazon and they won't be here until February.

> By the time you think you need one, and the delay in shipping, its already too late.

As you've observed, it's been too late three weeks ago, where I ordered one from a private provider. They took the money, but, uh, have not fulfilled the order.

Who could have possibly foreseen that in year three of an ongoing pandemic, there might be a demand for... COVID Tests?

Is the problem with ordering them when you don't yet need them that they expire quickly?

That's why you order your tests before you actually need them.

At this point its just handy to have a few on hand

Much too little _way_ too late

"It’s time for us to do what we have been doing, and that time is every day." -- Kamala Harris, January 2022

These would have been nice earlier. They've been out of stock for a long time, and I know people who had to use up their vacation days waiting for them to come back in stock because their employer wouldn't let them back in the office until they showed a negative test result.

If your employer is blocking you from coming back into the office due to health reasons, how can they mandate you use vacation days for it? Was the alternative to be without pay?

Honest question: what is the expected impact of this intervention compared to an alternate world where the intervention is not performed?

It doesn’t accomplish anything beyond causing undue chaos. Covid is now part of the larger ecosystem of exciting respiratory viruses you catch every year. Knowing it is Covid specifically and not some other virus doesn’t really give the sick person additional information—for the majority of infections the response will be the same: stay home, get rest, get good sleep, take your vitamins and recover.

All this mass testing is a colossal waste of health resources that doesn’t add any useful information beyond bumping up the case count.

Covid is endemic. Part of learning to live with it is to not test everybody that comes down with flu/cold-like symptoms. We’ve never done this for other respiratory viruses except before prescribing very specific medications like tamiflu.

Efficiently being able to source a test when needed may serve to reduce the load on the medical system.

As of today, if I want a test, my options are

* private seller - hard to source with high demand and expensive for those with limited income

* public test center - availability is a nightmare right now

* medical provider, be it PCP or ER

I don’t personally know how many people are choosing option 3, but anecdotally I have heard from friends and colleagues that they’ve chosen it for when their kids/they are sick.

There’s also an interesting side effect here: every at-home positive is a positive public health authorities won’t know about.

How will this reduce the load on the medical system? Most ERs already turn away patients who come in asking for a test unless they have severe symptoms.

By slowing the spread due to people who test positive at home staying there rather than going out and infecting others. The same number of people may get infected in the end, but it will be over a longer period of time.

Too late. Wastewater surveillance data indicates that the peak Omicron variant infection wave has already peaked in many places. The virus is so contagious that it runs through populations very quickly, just like what happened a few weeks ago in South Africa. By the time these additional test kits are in people's hands they're not going to make much difference.



Gaming it out in my head, I would assume that this increases access to testing for those who are either uninsured or those who could not afford the turnaround time for their insurance to reimburse them for purchase of at-home testing.

As such, in this alternate world without the intervention, a chunk of the populace cannot afford to test. If one wanted to make slightly rasher assumptions, this segment might include those who are in jobs (Walmart, food preparation and service) that expose them to a large part of the population.

4 per "home" -- but in the US the average number of people per household is a bit above 2.5. Similarly 500M tests in a country of 330M people. Both get us to more than 1 but less than 2 test per person. But to make a difference at a public health level, shouldn't we be testing regularly? If you have one test you have to decide when you're going to use it, which will surely be after you're symptomatic. If you want asymptomatic people to realize they're carrying it around, we have to provide enough tests that they can check regularly.

Yes, for those with private insurance it's good that in principle one can be reimbursed for buying home test kits (starting tomorrow) but good luck finding them! When I traveled recently I checked 3 pharmacies, and got responses ranging from "try again next week" to "we've been out of stock for 2 months".

Seems predictable that a government website won't handle the load on day one.

But this site is hosted by Akamai so maybe this time it's different?

Calling these Covid tests is disingenuous. They're PCR tests for viral fragments. We all know someone who had a positive "Covid test" and never showed any symptoms.

No they aren't. Literally the first item in the FAQ on the site says "NOT PCR"...

Why are they not just being sent to everyone?

There's a lot of potential good in sending them to people who will never request them.

That dramatically increase the logistics problem, it’s not as though the government has a reliable address for where each person would want a test shipped.

People who are worried about omicron and can afford $15 per test already have a supply.

People who aren’t worried about omicron will throw them away.

Some people are anti-vaccine and some are even anti-testing.

A large % of the red state population doesn’t want a test.


Some people feel that the mass asymptomatic testing serves to give perpetual fodder for sensationalist media headlines, as well as justification for public officials to impose new rounds of lockdowns, etc. As such those people believe that participating in asymptomatic testing only worsens those problems by creating "cases" in the absence of any actual clinical problem (that is to say, declaring people who are asymptomatic as COVID-19 positive even though COVID is an acronym that includes the word "disease"). They may also be against the general idea of constantly testing for the presence of a specific respiratory virus, however unique SARS-CoV-2 may be.

Better to ship the tests to the people that actually want them.


As an aside, you're right about "a large % of the red state population(s)", but I'd add that most "blue" people seem to think republicans are much more anti-vax / anti-test than they are. A majority of republicans are vaccinated, and a majority appear to support masking (at least indoors), or at the least are willing to begrudgingly comply. Here in California I feel like I meet a lot of people that seem to think that republicans are overwhelmingly "anti-vax" or, even more humorously, that Trump is anti-vax (humorous because his vocal praise of "boosters" and incessant bragging that he deserves credit for the vaccines and that the vaccines+lockdowns saved tens/hundreds of millions of lives, is one of his most unpopular stances with his base)

What is with Americans viewing every issue through a red/blue, republicans/democrats or conservative/progressive lens?

Excuse the rant but i have a working theory that it is an unchecked feedback cycle that's decades old, only now based on political party.

People generally hold sweeping, often negative, opinions of "those people". Over the decades, "those people" has been defined by race, religion, ethnicity, etc. Today in the US it is which political party people perceive you to be affiliated with.

I call this a feedback cycle because in my experience the people using this sort of rhetoric aren't interested in being proven wrong. They have chosen consciously or otherwise to vilify a group, or buy into preexisting vilification. Undoing that is hard work so it just doesn't happen. Absent any pressure, people assume themselves correct and chalk up another datapoint confirming their own biases.

This is readily apparent in response to any mass killing/tragedy. My more politically extreme friends seem to race for any evidence they can find that they perpetrator is Democrat/Republican. Of course this boils down to pure speculation (gun ownership, smokes pot, etc), but the urgency and desire is there all the same.

In summary it is little surprise that the politicians in Washington are so hardlined on their stances and party affiliations. This is effectively the government the voters have demanded. When the citizens of a country start vilify half the country, their representatives reaching across the isle is political suicide. And thus we sit.

> the people using this sort of rhetoric aren't interested in being proven wrong. They have chosen consciously or otherwise to vilify a group, or buy into preexisting vilification.

I’d love to be proven wrong on this point. Any data you can share that red/blue is not the most efficient segmentation for pro/anti-vaxx and/or pro/anti-test?

Off the cuff: Blacks in the US are the lowest vaccinated racial group (44%) in spite of voting the strongest for Biden/Harris (87%)[1]. This is part of the problem with the broad strokes approach, it completely erases trends like this.

I tried making a trend line comparing Vax % by state to Biden vote %. Interesting result[1] that i think supports both of our arguments. A trend line exists to support your claim, though i would argue it's not a great fit and the data is quite scattered.

I should also say i didn't mean to harsh address your comment specifically. I don't dispute the trend you claimed i was more ranting about the larger categorization that my parent comment was asking about.

Linking my sources[2][3] as well.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_United_States_presidentia...

2: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3rieowmakzvfzuv/vax%20vs%20demo%20...

3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_United_States_presidentia...

4: https://usafacts.org/visualizations/covid-vaccine-tracker-st...

We don't all do so, and the above poster is showing their bigotry with this assumption (and I'm sure I'll get some polling result to "prove" their assertion). Their last sentence could have and should have been left out.

It's not bigotry to observe that there's a significant portion of the population that believes things like 'COVID tests infect you with COVID.' It's just an observation of fact.

My friend's parents (Stockton, CA) aren't getting tested for this reason. They didn't get tested the first time they came down with 'Valley Fever', back in 2020, either.

(They also quit their jobs because of vaccination requirements, and believe that Trump won in 2020, and that he will reclaim the presidency on <a number of dates that have long passed>. It doesn't make me a bigot to point this sort of thing out, or that these beliefs tend to cluster.)

Because the union is barely hanging together like in the 1850s on very binary topics

Because it’s the dominant division of people here

Sure, let's just bombard every household with testing kits like we did with mail-in ballots.

that would be enormously wasteful


> They're not "Free". They're paid with wages taken from people.

Yes, it's “free” as in “freeway”. Most people understand that most government services are paid for using tax revenue — it's not enlighting to highlight this, especially when it's a tiny fraction of overall government spending and the average taxpayer will see far more benefit from this than, say, an F-35. Right now, lots of people have to worry about whether activities are safe or they should seek medical care — these tests are not perfect but if used they will definitely reduce spread and do so in a way which is less stressful than inefficiently polling CVS stores.

Not always -- sometimes they're paid for by devaluing everyone's currency.

There isn’t a functional nation on this planet that doesn’t have a tax system. The “taxes are theft” argument is dead. And very boring at this point.

You mean taxes. I'm happy our taxes are going to this.

why? what is the benefit in covering the world in test, what difference does it make?

If I test myself tomorrow four times "for free" - how did that benefit anyone?

wouldn't it much better if the tests went to people that actually needed it? Giving out "free" test is basically a massive waste, most test are not used when needed.

If you deliberately waste the tests, yes, you'll see little benefit. On the other hand, you could be more grownup and use them in ways which do benefit other people such as:

1. Testing yourself before meeting friends or family because as a responsible member of society you don't want to risk infecting them. Since spread is possible before being sick and some people, especially when vaccinated, never have strong symptoms, and people can get infected between taking a sample for a PCR test and showing up in-person, this is a great move for peace of mind.

2. Test whether or not that runny nose your kid has right now are in fact allergies before sending them to school. Smarter school districts require this (“test to stay”) so improved test availability is great for parents.

3. Get a result faster than a PCR test when you're deciding how seriously to take symptoms you currently have. A negative test doesn't mean you're in the clear but a positive result does at least mean that you can stop wondering and start making disruptive changes to your plans.

Should we also distribute influenza tests to everyone for use every time they meet friends or family? If not, why not? Seasonal influenza has a somewhat lower fatality rate but it still kills thousands every year and can be spread by asymptomatic carriers.

We arguably should be taking influenza more seriously but influenza is not sending people to the hospitals at levels sufficient to cause overload, or increasing the death rates substantially. We also still have some gaps — for example, the COVID vaccines are more effective than the influenza vaccines (it is a famously mutagenic virus) but the flu vaccines are available to even very young children whereas children under 5 cannot be vaccinated.

Don't forget, this is not a permanent forever program but a reaction to a raging pandemic. If we had high enough vaccination rates to keep COVID patients from overwhelming the medical system, that would drive the stress down to something like influenza levels and we could relax measures accordingly.

In prior years hospitals were routinely overloaded during the winter by influenza and other respiratory viruses.


Yes, but this is worse and global. Again, I’m talking about the current problem, not saying that we shouldn’t take precautions for the flu — we should be doing easy precautionary measures like mask mandates anytime things are getting overloaded, including improving capacity. The American health system being designed for profit maximization means we have less resilience even under non-pandemic conditions.

You’ll never get a good answer to this. All this testing does is further propel the panic and hysteria.

All these people who want this testing should be asking themselves what changes in the treatment of their viral infection if they know it was Covid instead of some other common respiratory virus? For the vast majority of the public the difference in treatment for Covid is the exact same as any other respiratory illness: stay home, get rest, and drink lots of liquid.

People who make this comment, do you really think that it's not a basic assumption that a government service is tax funded? Where the hell else would the funding come from?

Does "it's not free you pay for it from your taxes" really need to be said? "free" in this instance means no charge on top of the taxes funding it. For instance, Amtrak is partially tax funded but charges fares.

> do you really think that it's not a basic assumption that a government service is tax funded?

My impression is that they are fully aware but they don't want, for whatever reason, to come right out with the "taxes are theft" framing. The astounding irony of posting these messages using a set of technologies and infrastructure originated via taxes collected and then used by the government makes my head hurt.

<3 Thank you for saying what I couldn't put into words.

This isn't going to go away until people stop testing.

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