SAN DIEGO — President Biden announced Tuesday that 500 million rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests will be made available to the public starting next month. The tests will be free and can be requested online.
He made the announcement just as omicron spreads faster than any other variant and has become the most dominant variant in the country.
The president said omicron is spreading at alarming rates especially among the unvaccinated. So, he’s putting forth a plan to get as many people as possible tested.
“We’ll be giving these tests to Americans for free and we’ll have websites where you can get them delivered to your home,” President Biden said as he addressed the nation on Tuesday.
Though it’s unclear how long it’ll take for rapid home tests to arrive, President Biden told the nation that getting people tested is important to finding out who’s been infected and containing the spread.
“Hopefully people will be able to get them relatively quickly and they’re easy to do at home by yourself. That’ll definitely help with the outbreak,” said Dr. Mark Sawyer, from Rady Children’s Hospital and UCSD.
The president also said he’ll send 1,000 troops with medical skills to some of the most impacted areas of the country and create more pop-up vaccination spots with staffing to administer the shots.
One customer at the CVS in Mission Valley says frequent testing at her job has helped.
“We go in there, they do the nose swab and they do it every Monday. Everybody was passing and it’s just fine. I just wish all this stuff was over.”
Biden confirmed that he used the Defense Production Act and spent $3 billion for the at-home test expansion program. He also said private insurance companies will cover rapid tests distributed by doctors and hospitals. Dr. Sawyer said hospitalizations in San Diego County are stable, but he expects to see a noticeable increase in COVID-19 cases early next year.
“There is major concern that during January, we’re going to get to a point where hospitals are overcapacity and the lack of machinery like ventilators will be a problem,” Dr. Sawyer said.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria also released a statement saying he supports the president’s testing plan and is still encouraging San Diegans to get vaccinated.
WATCH RELATED: UC San Diego doctor speaks with News 8 about the omicron strain in San Diego