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Americans Can Soon Order Free At-Home COVID Tests — But Shipping Will Take A While

The tests might not arrive until some places have already hit their latest COVID-19 peak and are seeing a fall in cases — and, with that, testing demand.

A technician gives instruction as folks line up for free COVID-19 tests at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago's Hermosa neighborhood on Monday, November 30, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — You’ll soon be able to order free rapid at-home tests from the government — but they’ll take at least a week to arrive, according to a New York Times report.

Gov. Joe Biden promised in December to provide 500 million of the tests to Americans as the country. Starting Wednesday, people will be able to order those tests from COVIDTests.gov.

But it will take seven to 12 days for the orders to ship, White House officials said, according to the Times.

The tests will be shipped through the U.S. Postal Service. Tests will be limited to four per household.

The move comes as the United States is in the midst of another COVID-19 wave, this one fueled by the Omicron variant. For weeks, Americans have struggled to access trustworthy testing, with appointments booked up and at-home tests sold out in many places.

But some places, including Chicago and Illinois, are seeing early signs their case growth could be slowing down.

That means the government’s tests could come as the wave — and, with it, testing demand — is subsiding.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 7.8 million people — or 61.3 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 51,070 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 19,893,424 vaccine doses of the 22,536,165 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.7 million Chicagoans — or 65.4 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 73.3 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Since Thursday, 153 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 29,099 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,433 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 29,639 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 2,589,640.

• Since Thursday, 279,901 tests were reported statewide. In all, 47,949,094 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 10.6 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 12 percent Thursday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 15.6 percent. It was at 16.2 percent Thursday.

• As of Thursday night, 1,148 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 657 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, 15 deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 6,528 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of 21 people dying per day, up 47 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 4,342 confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 498,980 confirmed cases. An average of 4,887 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 12 percent from a week ago.

• Testing in Chicago is down 2 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate is at 17.7 percent, down from 20.4 percent the week prior.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers.

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