An abundance of COVID-19 test kits and N95 masks will soon be available to anyone who wants them, President Joe Biden said Thursday morning.
Addressing the nation, he urged the public to get vaccinated as hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19 rise across the country.
“I know we are all frustrated as we enter this new year, the Omicron variant is causing millions of cases and record hospitalizations,” Biden said. “I said that as we remain in the unvaccinated pandemic.”
Also in this story:
- Fresno County has 84,000 test kits coming.
- Restaurants in the Fresno area will receive 15,000 test kits.
Free COVID-19 tests and N95 masks for all Americans
The Biden administration is working on a federal website that will go live next week where Americans can order free COVID-19 rapid test kits online that will be shipped to their homes.
Biden previously said 500 million tests would be available. This amount doubled on Thursday.
“Today I’m asking my team to get another 500 million tests to give away for free – that’s a billion in total,” Biden said.
Besides free testing, Biden said the government would distribute high-quality N95 masks for free. More information on where to acquire these masks is expected next week.
“Never again will our nurses wear homemade masks and trash bags on their clothes,” Biden said.
PA reported that the federal government has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks, and while research has shown that these masks provide better protection, they are often more uncomfortable, but health officials recommend them over less protective cloth masks.
Fresno County will launch a similar website next week
Meanwhile, California is providing 84,000 test kits to the Fresno County Public Health Department.
However, the state was unavailable on the delivery date, said Joe Prado, director of the county health department.
Similar to the White House’s rollout of free test kits, the county has a distribution plan in place for when the kits arrive.
The Health Department will have a fully-developed online website for Fresno County residents to order free test kits for home delivery.
But there is a catch — only the most vulnerable populations in 32 of the county zip codes can order on the site.
“It’s the most burdened and affected health by COVID,” Prado said. “So if you live in the postcode, you can actually order a home test kit once it goes live.”
In addition to ordering online, individuals will also be able to purchase kits from 27 community organizations.
Local restaurants will receive their own test kits
Raul Gutierrez and Lorraine Salazar are both part of the local restaurant association that is partnering with the county health department to distribute 15,000 test kits to restaurant workers across the county.
Gutierrez says the number of people with COVID is directly affecting employees and providing testing kits will help get them back to normal.
“I think the availability of these antigen tests will really help our restaurant community, keeping our team members and businesses safe,” Salazar said.
There will be five different pick-up centers where restaurant managers can pick them up, and employees will receive about five test kits each.
Pickup areas will be in Selma, Lincoln and Power District, Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Clovis Chamber in Clovis, and Poppies Metro in North Fresno.
(Associated Press contributed to this article.)