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COVID-19 Roundup: More COVID-19 At-Home Tests Available amid Spread of Omicron Subvariant

The latest on COVID-19 boosters, at-home tests, and other virus-related news

May 17, 2022

Households across the U.S. can order another eight at-home tests from the federal government starting today.

Federal officials announced that a third round of ordering was available via the federal website, bringing the total to 16 at-home tests available per household since the start of the year. The news comes as public health officials continue to monitor the spread of the virus due to the highly transmissible Omicron subvariants.

About 70 million households have received 350 million free tests thus far, White House officials said in a statement.

“As the highly transmissible subvariants of Omicron drive a rise in cases in parts of the country, free and accessible tests will help slow the spread of the virus,” the statement said.

Here’s what to know about COVID-19 today:

  • Extending the public health emergency:  Media reports indicate the federal government will extend the COVID-19 public health emergency past mid-July, but no official announcement has been made. Last week, the American Hospital Association and 15 other organizations called on the federal government to extend the emergency declaration to help hospitals and other organizations respond to the pandemic.
  • Trends in cases, hospitalizations:  The seven day-averages of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. (94,199) and Pennsylvania (3,697) have been trending higher in recent weeks, but remain below the winter surge. Nationally, the seven day-average of COVID-19 hospitalizations (15,977) has increased 14.2 percent from the prior week. In Pennsylvania, there are 907 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including 96 in the ICU and 36 on ventilators.
  • Variant tracker:  The Omicron subvariants BA.2 (50.9%) and BA.2.12.1 (47.5%) account for nearly all cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. Public health officials are watching for the spread of BA.4 and BA.5, which have been identified as variants of concern in other countries.
  • Boosters for children:  The FDA today amended its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to allow for a booster dose for children between 5 and 11 at least five months after completing the primary series. Nationally, less than 30 percent of children in this age group have completed the initial series.
  • Quotable:  “We need to get our population vaccinated, and we need to get them boosted,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House’s chief medical advisor, said today during a budget hearing. “That would completely obviate the need to lock anything down.”

HAP continues to urge everyone who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 to make an appointment in their local community. Additional information about vaccines in your community is available online.