|The Biden administration announced yesterday it would purchase 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests, making them available at no cost for Americans in an effort to counter a surge in new coronavirus cases. The tests will reportedly become available in January and can be ordered via a to-be-launched website. The move comes one day after health officials revealed the omicron variant now accounts for an estimated 73% of new cases reported in the US. The country also reported what is believed to be its first known omicron death, a 50-year-old Texas man. Early evidence suggests the strain may be less deadly than previous mutations. In South Africa, where the strain was first identified, the caseload rose by more than 45 times in the course of the past month (see data)—before dropping—while deaths rose by a factor of two. However, researchers caution country-level data may be skewed depending on vaccination status and the number of younger people, who are less prone to severe illness, testing positive. Explore current US COVID-19 stats here.