Did your free COVID tests arrive yet?

Who has received his/her/zir/their free-from-Joe-Biden COVID-19 tests? This handout seems like an ideal political strategy. People will be delighted to pay $40,000 per year in local, state, and federal taxes as long as they can get $40 (retail) in COVID tests “for free” from the benevolent pharaoh.

I’m wondering if the typical household receives these tests just as Omicron (“in retreat” due to muscular government efforts, not because of Farr’s law) has disappeared and, more importantly, if Americans will be told to discard these tests when the next wave hits because the tests won’t be sufficiently sensitive to whatever variant comes after Omicron.

Readers: What’s your prediction as to whether 90% of these tests ultimately are discarded?


25 thoughts on “Did your free COVID tests arrive yet?

  1. I just checked and found that ebay doesn’t allow COVID-19 tests to be sold there, so when/if mine show up they’re going directly into the trash can with all the other junk mail.

  2. I heard this through the grapevine today, a blurb from the advance galleys of a Senior Center in Massachusetts:

    “Get free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests: Go to COVIDtests.gov
    Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days. Order your tests now so you have them when you need them.”

    That’s prominently featured in a February newsletter issue.

    The distro. is being quadrangalized, logistified and fulfillicated by the United States Postal Service:


    I’ll submit a request and report back in 7-12 days.

    • It seems this Senior Center and everyone else involved are not concerned with the possibility that all these tests will become useless in the near-to-mid future. Your Hidden Spark also refuses to place odds on that possibility, as he/she/him/her/zir/ze/they/them/it does not have any credentials that would enable them to make an informed statement guided by #Science.

      However the evidence exists that: “..so you have them when you need them.” is part of the stated rationale and encouragement for older people who want to place their orders now and keep them around. In this case Magneto is not to reason why but only to report. Good luck out there!


  3. Strange how the larger the government gets, the more the economy is focused on buying useless stuff while shortages in semiconductors & food abound. The same thing happened in the USSR & China.

    • This propensity of socialist economies has been predicted (and has been ligically proven to destroy socialist economies in the end) by Ludwig von Mises in 1920. See “economic calculation in the socialist commonwealth”. Since the argument advanced is praxeological – i.e. not based on assumed rationality or aggregate models, it cannot be disproven by anything other than finding faults in the logic or the axioms used. The corollary of this argument is that ANY economic central planning is unconditionally bad. So the modern Keynesian economists simply pretend that it does not exist, which is, by itself, the proof that modern economists are pretty much 100% charlatans.

  4. They will, of course, all eventually wind up in landfills or recycled (or maybe tucked away in an attic somewhere as a remembrance) – the real question is what the distribution of used and discarded vs. just plain discarded tests will be, and that will vary geographically. It will probably closely track your observation that (I’m paraphrasing): “People who want to be locked down will continue to want to be locked down.” So those tests will be used – effective or not – and if they don’t work very well in a couple of months, loud cries from the rooftops will be heard for more, newer, updated free tests.

    A certain cohort of “street entrepreneurs” will also make some quick cash collecting and selling them to panicked people who have already shot through their four allotted tests and have some cash money and internalized paranoia waiting to be spent. I expect some tests to just “go missing” in shipment as a result and because I have not seen the box, I have no idea what kinds of “provenance” labeling they have on them.

    If they are like the CDC’s Vaccination Proof cards, there will be no attempt at security, and therefore the tests will be easy to resell because it will be just like the fake Rolex guy in the trench coat, or something like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels:

  5. re: “receives these tests just as Omicron … has disappeared”

    Although you went on to refer to “more importantly..”: I’d suggest its likely they don’t care about the future and whether or not the tests are discarded. I’m guessing they also suspect this will be the last covid wave of concern and that restrictions will start lifting as they are in the UK (thats assuming Pfizer’s treatment regime is produced in sufficient quantities before any future wave and is 90% effective, on top of all the immunity from prior infections).

    I’m guessing their hope is that the public with a short attention span will merely remember the tail end of the pandemic when they were getting free tests and N95 masks. They hope by election season people’s memories will be fading of everything but the tail end of the pandemic restrictions. The public won’t think through whether they came too late and were too low a quantity to make much difference if the wave were ongoing (rather than likely peaking before most people get their tests&masks).

  6. According to school children in England orange juice will get you off work. But you probably don’t need a test showing positive to ‘work from home’ or take a few days off. Can’t imagine many places are making employees prove it. Just say your feeling covidy. We’ve progressed quite far from the old days of come to work sick or else.

  7. Man, everyone is so cynical – what gives?

    Shouldn’t we be impressed that our federal government is able to accomplish feats of logistics like this?

    Whether the tests end up being useful in helping reduce the impact of the pandemic remains to be seen (maybe too little too late), but I think this blog a number of months ago was criticizing the absence of ubiquitous rapid testing.

    As the president would say – “come on man.” It’s the greatest time ever to be alive and all we can do is sit here and bitch about free covid tests.

    • Feats of logistics? Forbid the free COVID-19 test market on Ebay and Alibaba so people don’t find out the real price (it was instructive to see the true price of masks on Alibaba when pharmacies ripped off people in 2020). Then offer a form on USPS in the hope that no one will bother. The people who do bother still haven’t received their tests.

      Months later it will also be useful to examine who got rich on these transactions, like several politicians in Europe with their nepotistic mask scandals. Who supplied the tests to the government, at what price, and how is he/she/ze/they politically connected?

    • Yeah, the federal govt is truly impressive in its ability to steal by billions and channel huge money streams to its cronies.

      Delivering actual useful medicines and medical devices… not so much.

    • If the gov’t sent free Ivermectin to everyone I’d be impressed, and grateful. But if you have to test to know you are sick what is the point? Gov’t should send out tests that determine gender to end that confusion, you know when you are sick, knowing what gender you are these days is hard for a lot of people.

    • Craig: You raise a good point. Compared to the amount of time and money that it took to get healthcare.gov up and running (to sell Obamacare policies), the web-based system to order tests is a shining example of efficiency!

      Aside from the fact that we are finally governed in a competent, hate-free, and Trump-free manner, why is it obvious that “It’s the greatest time ever to be alive”? Wasn’t 2019 better? You could travel anywhere in the world without quarantining, showing medical records, or getting stuck for 14 days in the event of a positive PCR test. You could get a planet-saving Tesla for immediate delivery (a friend gets his Tesla X next month; he ordered it in December 2020). You could buy as many GPUs as you wanted (and wouldn’t have to bother using them to mine bitcoin, readily available at $10,000 per coin). Aside from the steady leadership of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the exciting prospect of a Black woman being appointed to the Supreme Court, what makes 2022 better than 2019 for a typical American?

    • @Craig, the central planners were able to send out checks and do direct deposits to ease the burden on Americans due to the shutdown (COVID is not the real burden, the shutdown is) **without** anyone of us having to go to a website asking for free money. Shouldn’t the central planners have done the same for the test kit and masks? That would have been an achievement, no?

    • George: You raise a good point. The current system favors those with high quality Internet access. You’d think that it would result in more equity for each letter carrier to drop off one package of tests at every residential address along his/her/zir/their route.

    • @philg – If you think human progress is measured in terms of Tesla and GPU availability, then yes – maybe it was better to be alive in 2019. You also might have an argument in that life expectancy may have dipped somewhat over the past few years. Otherwise, I would strongly argue that most of us living now prefer the 2020’s compared to the 1920’s or 1820’s. What historical period would you prefer?

      @George A. – There were probably some requirements that necessitated a demand “pull” via website, although I tend to agree with @philg that the mail carriers should have just dropped off the kits at residential households. From a systems perspective, creating an order via a website was probably the easiest way to kick off the delivery process, rather than querying a database of all residential mail recipients (which I’m not sure even exists). I don’t think our “central planners” in this case are a bunch of buffoons with no clue. I often find myself too critical based on a over-simplified understanding of the problem.

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