Vice President Kamala Harris could not definitively say Thursday when 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests promised by the Biden administration will be shipped out to American households — more than three weeks after the initiative was announced by President Biden.
“They’ve been ordered. They’ve been ordered,” Harris told NBC’s “Today” show.
“I have to look at the current information,” the veep added. “I think it’s going to be by next week. But soon, absolutely soon. And it is a matter of urgency for us.”
When asked by interviewer Craig Melvin if the slow rollout should have happened sooner, Harris snapped: “We are doing it.”
The Biden administration has so far failed to offer a set timeline for when Americans might be able to get their hands on the millions of at-home rapid tests amid the ongoing Omicron surge.
Even though the weeks-old plan has yet to be fully rolled out, the White House on Wednesday promised to provide 10 million more COVID-19 tests per month to schools.
That plan involves distributing 5 million rapid tests to schools and making an additional 5 million PCR tests available via a Department of Health and Human Services program.
Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, revealed earlier this week that the administration had contracted for just 50 million test kits so far out of the 500 million.
“We anticipate the first tests going out at the end of this month with the remaining tests going out over the next 60 days,” O’Connell told lawmakers during a Senate hearing.
The administration still hasn’t launched a website for people to request the rapid tests — and it isn’t clear that the tests will reach Americans before the number of Omicron infections hit their peak.
The current seven-day daily average of COVID-19 cases in the US has now surged to 751,000.