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WASHINGTON (AP) — Under criticism after weeks of shortages, President Joe Biden's administration is working to make COVID-19 rapid test kits more available and accessible to Americans by boosting supply and lowering costs. A new federal website to request free test kits launches Wednesday, with the first shipments going out to Americans by the end of the month. In addition, most Americans will be able to get reimbursed for tests that they purchase starting Saturday.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Americans overlooked shortages, spiking prices and uncertainty over the omicron variant to break spending records during the critical holiday shopping season. But figures released Friday show that after spending robustly early in the holiday season, consumers sharply slowed their purchases from November to December.

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ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has long lamented that he can't walk around town unnoticed like he used to before becoming pope. But he seems to have nevertheless kept his sense of humor after he was caught on camera making an unannounced visit to a Rome record shop this week.

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Benjamin Whitely headed to a Safeway supermarket in Washington D.C. on Tuesday to grab some items for dinner. But he was disappointed to find the vegetable bins barren and a sparse selection of turkey, chicken and milk.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Starting Saturday, private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans. The Biden administration announced the change Monday as it looks to lower costs and make testing for the virus more convenient amid rising frustrations.

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As the raging omicron variant of COVID-19 infects workers across the nation, millions of those whose jobs don't provide paid sick days are having to choose between their health and their paycheck.

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Holiday sales rose at the fastest pace in 17 years, even as shoppers grappled with higher prices, product shortages and a raging new COVID-19 variant in the last few weeks of the season, according to one spending measure.

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