The emergence of the Delta and Omicron variants triggered a nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases. The need for accessible coronavirus tests grew exponentially as COVID-19 cases surged.
In response to the rise in COVID-19 cases, the Biden administration launched COVIDTests.gov on Jan.19. The website provided four at-home coronavirus test kits per household.
No matter the size of the household, the federal government will only allot each home four tests. Families exceeding four people will be forced to choose which of their children, siblings, or parents is most deserving of an at-home COVID-19 test. Mothers are being tasked to determine which of their kids could possibly be the most impacted by the virus.
This reality is even more troubling when one considers that minority communities are more likely to have more than four occupants in a household. According to KFF.org, 23% of Black Americans, 25% of Asian Americans and 36% of Hispanic Americans have more than four people in their households.
Black Americans specifically were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
In a fact sheet released by the White House, the Biden administration stated that the at-home coronavirus test kits initiative was meant to “serve our hardest-hit and highest-risk communities.” However, by limiting the number to four at-home tests, the Biden administration has excluded the communities that need accessible testing the most.
In a failed effort to expand upon their at-home test initiative, the Biden administration has required that all private insurance companies reimburse their members for up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests.
According to The New York Times, only 45% of Americans are privately insured, meaning the majority of Americans would be unable to procure the four extra tests.
With more than half of the American population living without private insurance, the additional four tests seem more like an exclusive privilege gifted to a select few rather than a right that should be accessible to all Americans.
The quantity restrictions put in place by the Biden Administration has produced an outcome that contrasts with their mission; to make testing more accessible to all Americans, especially those belonging to demographics that were hit the hardest by COVID-19.
This initiative has not effectively served the American communities that were heavily impacted by the coronavirus; and they will continue to fail these communities if the four at-home COVID-19 test and the privately insured only limitations remain in place.