The seasonal workers brought in by the US Postal Service to deal with the onslaught of holiday mail might be sticking around to help send out hundreds of millions of COVID test kits. Sources tell the Washington Post that President Biden's administration is pushing forward with plans to send 500 million free rapid COVID tests to households that request them, and the first tests could go out as soon as next week. The Post's sources say test manufacturers and distributors have submitted proposals, and the administration awarded its first contract under the scheme late Thursday.
The sources say the administration will launch a website where people can request the tests. A formal announcement is expected next week. With new cases soaring to record levels, demand for tests has far outstripped supply in many areas—and major retailers have hiked the prices of at-home tests following the expiration of a deal with the administration to sell them at cost for three months. Vox notes that the roots of the test shortage lie in decisions by the Trump and Biden administrations to focus heavily on vaccines instead of testing. Worker shortages and a slow test approval process have also played a role. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)