Overnight Health Care — Free testing kit website now live

Overnight Health Care — Free testing kit website now live

Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup. 

A candidate for Senate in Louisiana released an ad meant to go viral, showing him smoking marijuana in order to highlight the racial imbalance of marijuana laws and arrests.  

The White House had an unofficial soft launch today of the website to order free COVID-19 tests … and it generally went well, though some issues arose with people living in apartments or duplexes. 

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan ([email protected]) and Nathaniel Weixel ([email protected]). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4 and @NateWeixel 

Let’s get started.

You can now order free rapid tests online

After weeks of pharmacies selling out of rapid tests, Americans now have an easier option than scouring local retailers: a new government website that sends tests to your home.   

COVIDTests.gov went live on Tuesday in a “limited capacity” to work out any issues ahead of an official launch on Wednesday, the White House said. 

Any American can order rapid tests for free through the website, and they will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. All that is required is a name and mailing address; no credit card information is needed. 

But, there are some major limits: Each residential address is limited to four tests. And the tests will usually take seven to 12 days to ship, the White House said.    

President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion The Fed has a clear mandate to mitigate climate risks Biden says Roe v. Wade under attack like ‘never before’ MORE has been facing pressure to expand access to testing given the shortages of rapid tests at retailers, as well as long lines at testing sites.  

Many experts say the White House should have acted months ago to set up the kind of free rapid test program that is now launching. 

With a limit of four tests per address, the website alone will not provide for the kind of frequent testing that many experts have called for.   

Other option: As of Saturday, health insurers are also now required to cover up to eight rapid tests per month, though that process can be cumbersome in that it often requires people to pay up front and then submit their receipts for reimbursement from their insurer.   

Read more here.  

Pfizer says antiviral effective against omicron

Lab studies show Pfizer’s COVID-19 treatment pill Paxlovid to be effective against the omicron variant, the company announced Tuesday. 

Pfizer said three separate lab studies showed nirmatrelvir, the drug’s main protease inhibitor, maintains its effectiveness against omicron. A protease inhibitor is a class of drugs that stop a virus from replicating.  

Pfizer announced the findings in a press release and said it was submitting them to pre-print medical journals. 

The emergence of the omicron variant has led to questions about the effectiveness of Paxlovid, as well as other COVID-19 treatments, because the variant has many more mutations compared to earlier strains. 

Paxlovid is seen as a major step forward in the fight against the virus, with trials showing that it reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89 percent in high-risk patients. Some experts have suggested that because the drug is a protease inhibitor, it won’t be as limited by mutations as other types of treatments. 

The Food and Drug Administration last month authorized Paxlovid for use in high-risk patients. The fact that Paxlovid is a pill rather than an injection, as in previous treatments, is expected to make it more accessible and easier to take.  

Read more here.


At least 20 percent of Americans have now been infected with COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  

The data shows more than 66,400,000 Americans have been infected with the coronavirus since the pandemic began in early 2020. The country has seen more than 850,000 deaths. 

The total number of Americans who had COVID-19 could be much higher due to asymptomatic cases.  

About 63 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated, though that figure significantly varies by locality — from about 48 percent in Alabama and Wyoming to nearly 87 percent in Washington, D.C. 

The omicron variant currently spreading across the country has proven far more transmissible than previous strains, even among vaccinated populations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the variant accounts for 98 percent of all new infections. 

Read more here.


If medicine and vaccine inequities are quickly dealt with, the world has a “chance to end” the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Tuesday. 

Michael Ryan, the executive director for WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said during a World Economic Forum-hosted panel that the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, including lockdown measures and COVID-19-caused deaths, would continue if resources like the vaccine were not equitably distributed by businesses and governments, The Associated Press reported. 

However, he noted that “we have a chance to end the public health emergency this year if we do the things that we’ve been talking about.” 

Ryan blamed “disruption of our social, economic, political systems” for causing the pandemic hardships faced by many citizens around the world, “not the virus,” according to the news outlet. 

“What we need to do is get to low levels of disease incidence with maximum vaccination of our populations, so nobody has to die,” the WHO official said. 

WHO officials have slammed wealthier nations for not doing a better job prioritizing providing initial vaccine doses to poorer countries over giving out booster shots to their own citizens. 

Read more here.  

Supreme Court rejects bid to block mask mandate on airplanes

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a request to block a federal mask mandate for air travel.  

The emergency application was filed by a father on behalf of himself and his 4-year-old autistic son, both of whom claim to be medically incapable of wearing masks for extended periods. 

Their request was filed to Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court to revisit part of Native American land decision in Oklahoma The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Biden talks, Senate balks Sotomayor, Gorsuch issue statement denying tensions over masks MORE, who handles emergency applications arising in several Western states, and he referred the matter to the full court. The justices denied the request without comment or noted dissent.  

Joining the father-son challengers was another man, Lucas Wall, who has sought to raise money and publicity from his legal efforts targeting the federal transportation mask mandate. Chief Justice John Roberts last month unilaterally rejected a separate challenge filed by the group.   

The court’s move comes less than a week after the justices voted 6-3 to block a vaccine-or-test mandate for most employers.

Read more here.


  • The public library is the latest place to pick up a coronavirus test. Librarians are overwhelmed (Washington Post) 
  • As hospitals face blood shortage, senators seek new donor rules for gay and bisexual men (The 19th) 
  • People are hiding that their unvaccinated loved ones died of COVID (The Atlantic)  
  • Officials struggle to regulate pop-up Covid testing sites — and warn patients to beware (Kaiser Health News)


  • Amid COVID-19 surge, Texas nursing facilities face staffing worsening shortages (KXAN)  
  • California throws more money at COVID-19 contact tracing, but is it too late? (The Mercury News)  
  • Illinois Cook County brings back 3 mass vaccination sites amid appointment shortage (ABC 7)


Trump’s tariffs are not causing post-COVID inflation

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.