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Students react to end of free at-home COVID test program

Students react to end of free at-home COVID test program

Students react to end of free at-home COVID test program
September 16
09:00 2022

The federal government ended its free COVID-19 test program, which allowed every household to get 16 tests per year, on Sept. 2 citing a lack of funding.

COVID-19 testing has been a recent concern for many across the country, including students, because of testing costs and the end of free testing programs. The Student Health and Wellness Center has suspended one of its free testing programs, citing a return to pre-COVID-19 operations.

“I could see the argument in that at the start, but I think I can see why they wouldn’t put more funding to it now,” psychology sophomore Brendan Briggs said.

The test kit program was created during a sharp increase in COVID-19 infection rates across the country, which have fallen since January. However, COVID-19 has not been completely eradicated from Denton, with an average of 195 newly reported infections over the last seven days, according to the New York Times.

Some students believe testing should receive further financial support.

“I think they should find someone else to provide the resources to distribute these tests,” aviation logistics sophomore Andrew Sherman said.

The program started in January under the Biden administration to combat Omicron variants and distributed over 350 million tests across the United States by May. The funding for the free test program was enough to last through September. Further funding will not be allocated towards distributing these tests.

Computer science junior Benyam Samson voiced their disagreement with the government’s handling of funds.

“I feel like they should’ve handled it differently,” Samson said. “COVID is something we will be dealing with for a long time, so we should get people, especially vulnerable people, the help they need.”

Samson and other students expressed concern about the accessibility of COVID-19 tests. At-home COVID-19 test prices in Denton can vary widely. CVS Pharmacy, the closest drug store to campus, sells tests at prices ranging from $9.99 and $38.99.

The government currently lists a few resources for those still seeking tests on covid.gov/tests. According to the website, there are some alternatives to fronting the full price of a test, including a health insurance reimbursement, which pays back some of the cost of up to eight tests per year for those who are insured.

Additionally, the SHWC still offers some programs for COVID-19 testing. The center will still test students with insurance for no out-of-pocket cost using rapid tests. However, they have stopped offering testing without an appointment at the center.

Some students are still worried about the impact on others.

“I think it might be more important for those who aren’t students,” Sherman said.

While the SHWC will continue to offer tests to students as needed, the center’s website instructs faculty and staff to “contact their primary care provider for COVID-19 testing.” The website also lists a testing site on campus where anyone can get tested behind the ROTC building.

Featured Image: An at-home COVID-19 test shows a negative result on Sept. 7, 2022. Photo by Jesse Sanders

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John Eberhart

John Eberhart

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