White House: 40% of free COVID tests to low-income areas

FILE - Youngstown City Health Department worker Faith Terreri grabs two at-home COVID-19 test kits to be handed out during a distribution event, Dec. 30, 2021, in Youngstown, Ohio. Nearly half the 500 million free COVID-19 tests the Biden administration recently made available to Americans still have not been claimed as virus cases plummet and people feel less urgency to test. (AP Photo/David Dermer, File) (David Dermer, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

WASHINGTON – The White House says 40% of COVID-19 tests ordered through its program to distribute free at-home rapid tests have gone to Americans in distressed areas.

That's an upward revision from an estimate of around 20% of free tests ordered by people in “high vulnerability Zip Codes” that White House officials had earlier provided to The Associated Press.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced that his administration would make available 500 million free COVID tests to anyone who wanted one. The U.S. Postal Service was tapped to deliver the packages of four free tests per household. Officials placed a special focus on reaching low-income Americans.

Despite a crush of orders when the program launched in January, demand has fallen off as omicron cases plummet and people feel less urgency to test.

The White House says Americans have placed 68 million orders for packages of tests, which leaves about 46% of the stock of tests, or nearly half, still available to be ordered.