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Free COVID tests are back amid national uptick in the virus

Updated coronavirus shots are expected to be free for most Americans with private health insurance or coverage through Medicare or Medicaid, experts say.  (Melina Mara/Washington Post)

Following a national uptick in COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization, free coronavirus tests are once again available through the federal government.

Over 755 million free COVID tests were distributed throughout the country before the program was suspended this May amid all-time low coronavirus transmission in the U.S.

People can receive four at-home COVID tests through the mail by going to The website will only require a name and address. Those signing up for the tests will not need to enter their credit card information or any other personal details.

Some of the test packaging may indicate they are expired, but the FDA extended the expiration date after most tests had been packaged.

Rapid tests are taken at home and are recommended when someone develops symptoms like a sore throat or fever, or are asymptomatic and have had close contact in the past five days with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. They can also be taken before attending a large event.

At-home rapid COVID tests are also available at local pharmacies. A Rite-Aid pharmacy located at the corner of Grand Boulevard and 29th Avenue in Spokane had a single-use test for $9.99 and a package of two tests for $23.99. Out-of-pocket costs for these commercial COVID tests can often be reimbursed by health insurance.

Spokane County Health District data has shown increasing COVID-19 transmission in Spokane wastewater over the summer and into the fall – with a large spike in early September. Hospitalizations have remained far below rates of transmission even as they have risen. Both local metrics are in line with national trends.