An abundance of COVID-19 testing kits and N95 masks will soon be available for anyone who wants them President Joe Biden said Thursday morning.
Addressing the nation, he urged the public to get vaccinated as hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases surge throughout the country.
“I know we’re all frustrated as we enter this new year, Omicron variant is causing millions of cases and record hospitalizations,” said Biden. “I’ve been saying that as we remain in the pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Also in This Story:
- Fresno County has 84,000 test kits coming.
- Fresno area restaurants will receive 15,000 test kits.
COVID-19 Tests And N95 Masks Free For All Americans
The Biden administration is working on a federal website that will be up and running next week where Americans can order free online rapid COVID-19 test kits that will be shipped to their homes.
Biden had previously said 500 million tests would be available. That amount doubled on Thursday.
“Today I’m directing my team to procure an additional 500 million more tests to distribute for free — that’s a billion total,” said Biden.
Apart from the free tests, Biden said the government would give out free high-quality N95 masks. More information on where to acquire these masks is expected next week.
“Never again, are we going to have our nurses wearing homemade masks and garbage bags over their clothes,” said Biden.
AP reported that the federal government has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks, and although research has shown those masks to be better protection, they are often more uncomfortable, But health officials are recommending those as opposed to less-protective cloth masks.
Fresno County Will Roll Out A Similar Website Next Week
Meanwhile, California is providing 84,000 testing kits to the Fresno County Department of Public Health.
However, the state has not been forthcoming on the delivery date, said Joe Prado, the county’s health department manager.
Similar to the rollout of free testing kits by the White House, the county does have a distribution plan in place for when the kits arrive.
The health department will have an online website fully developed for Fresno County residents to order free testing kits for delivery to their homes.
But there is a catch — only the most vulnerable populations in 32 of the county’s zip codes will be able to order from the site.
“It’s the most health burdened and the most impacted by COVID,” said Prado. “So if you live in the ZIP code, you can actually order an at-home test kit once it goes live.”
Besides ordering online, individuals will also be able to pick up kits from 27 community-based organizations.
Local Restaurants Will Receive Their Own Testing Kits
Both Raul Gutierrez and Lorraine Salazar are a part of the local Restaurant Association that is partnering with the county’s health department to distribute 15,000 testing kits to restaurant employees across the county.
Gutierrez says the amount of people getting COVID is directly affecting employees and providing test kits is going to help them come back to normal.
“Having these antigen tests available, I think, is really just going to help our restaurant community, keeping our team members and businesses safe,” said Salazar.
There will be five different pick-up centers where restaurant managers can come pick them up, and employees will receive about five testing kits each.
The areas for pick up will be in Selma, in the Lincoln and Power District, the Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Clovis Chamber in Clovis, and Poppies Metro in North Fresno.
(Associated Press contributed to this article.)