Home Travel Why Biden’s Free COVID Tests Can’t Be Used For Travel

Why Biden’s Free COVID Tests Can’t Be Used For Travel

by SharonKurheg

The Biden administration is buying a billion COVID tests to give to Americans for free. Beginning this Wednesday, January 19th, a half billion of those tests will be available for order and will be mailed directly to American households. Americans will be able to order their tests online at COVIDTests.gov, and tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering (a phone line will also be available so those who can’t access the website will be able to call to order their tests).

We all know that testing is an important tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Travelers also know that testing for the virus “X” number of hours or days before travel is one of the only ways, if not THE the only way to enter many countries, including the United States.

The tests the government will have available for mail order will be the same type of at-home rapid antigen tests that travelers often use to prove they don’t have COVID (Binax NOW is a good example). Unfortunately, the tests that the government will be sending out generally won’t be usable for travel.

Why not? If it’s the same test and all…?

Joe went into this in a post way back in June, when testing for COVID for travel was still relatively new. It’s a good explanation.

But in a nutshell, with the government tests, no one is watching you do the test. There’s no proctor.

What is a proctor?

A proctor is an approved third party person who overseeing or monitors a person who is taking a test.

  • For education-related tests, the proctor generally just watches the students – they may or may not check IDs, but their main role is to ensure the students are following the test rules, not sharing answers, and, if it’s a timed test, don’t go over the allotted amount of time.
  • For travel-related at-home rapid antigen tests, the proctor, using a secure Wi-Fi video set up via phone, tablet or or computer ensures that your government-issued ID matches the name on your boarding pass. They’re also trained to talk you through how to do the test, watch you do it, look at the results, and tell you how to obtain/show proof of the official results on your phone (when we were coming home from Iceland, our proctor also made us aware of an easy-to-make mistake Joe had made on his test).

Just like the tests that are sold in Walgreens, CVS, etc., the tests that the government will be sending have no way to have a proctor involved. That means you wouldn’t have a third party involved to make sure you’re doing the test correctly, not cheating, etc. So those tests generally won’t be allowed to be used to prove you’re negative for COVID before traveling (save for the few places where you don’t need to have a proctor supervising your testing).

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derek January 17, 2022 - 1:55 pm

President Biden’s free Covid tests are not good for travel because he is a good Democrat. He does not want rich fat cats who are elite members of frequent flyer programs to rip off the poor and the taxpayer. In contrast, those who want free Covid tests for poor are MAGA supporters. Sorry, that is the way it is.

SharonKurheg January 20, 2022 - 3:15 pm

My apologies for not approving this a few days ago – my mail sorter put it into my spam bin. Anyway, I’m sure that the cost of proctoring had some pull; plus the vast majority of people taking the tests don’t need it for travel…they just want to know if they should self-isolate or not.

joe joey January 18, 2022 - 3:05 pm

Don’t need it if cam be used for travel….


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