Here's How to Get Free COVID Tests and N95 Masks

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KEY POINTS

  • The Biden administration has launched a program to distribute free COVID-19 tests and N95 masks.
  • Each U.S. household can request one set of four COVID-19 tests online.
  • Free N95 masks are available at pharmacies and community health centers, and each person can take up to three.


It's now free to stock up on at-home COVID-19 tests and N95 masks, which are recommended to protect against the omicron variant.

In December of last year, the White House announced places to make at-home COVID-19 tests available for free. Last month, it officially launched programs to offer free at-home tests and N95 masks. Both are vital tools to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially the highly-contagious omicron variant.

So how do you get your free tests and masks? There's a separate process for each one, but they're both quick and easy.

How to get your free at-home COVID-19 tests

The government has set up an official site to order free COVID-19 tests. Here's how to get yours:

  • Visit COVIDtests.gov.
  • Click "Order Free At-Home Tests" to go to the order page.
  • Provide your name and shipping address, plus your email address if you want shipping notifications.
  • Click "Check Out Now," and then "Place My Order."

There's a limit of one order per residential address, and each order contains four individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests. Orders usually ship in seven to 12 days, but there is high demand, so the shipping date depends on when tests become available.

If you need help with the order process, you can also do it over the phone by calling 1-800-232-0233.

How to get your free N95 masks

Free N95 masks are available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the United States. The limit is up to three masks per adult to ensure all Americans have access.

Currently, the only option is to pick up masks in person at a location that's offering them. You can't request them online like you can request COVID-19 tests.

Since there are quite a few places giving out free masks, the best way to find one is to call pharmacies (including supermarkets with their own pharmacies) near you. They can let you know if they have masks available. Here are some of the major chains confirmed to be offering free masks:

  • Albertsons
  • Costco
  • CVS
  • H-E-B
  • Kroger
  • Meijer
  • Rite Aid
  • Safeway
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

Reports indicate that most pharmacies that worked with the federal government to distribute COVID-19 vaccines are also part of the free mask program. You can find a full list on the CDC's page for pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

Other ways to get tested for COVID-19

Having COVID-19 tests delivered to your door is the most convenient option, but there are also other ways to get tested.

You can get low or no-cost COVID-19 testing at select pharmacies and local health centers across the U.S. This testing is available to everyone, including the uninsured. Testing options include:

  • CVS Health
  • Local independent pharmacies
  • Rite Aid
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart (in partnership with Quest Diagnostics)

To learn more, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services page on Community-Based Testing Sites for COVID-19.

If you have private health insurance, insurers now cover at-home COVID-19 tests. As of Jan. 15, people with health plans have been eligible to get these diagnostic tests online and in stores at no cost. Depending on your health plan, tests are either free at the point of sale, or you can submit a claim with your insurance company for reimbursement.

Plans are required to provide reimbursement for up to eight COVID-19 tests per month. Although Medicare recipients aren't eligible for free over-the-counter tests yet, they will be in early spring.

At-home COVID-19 tests and N95 masks can both come in handy. And it's now an easy enough process to get a few tests and masks without dipping into your bank accounts. You can get up to four tests online, and N95 masks are available at several major pharmacy chains.

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