USPS to start shipping free COVID-19 tests

Free COVID-19 test kits for people who ordered them from COVIDtests.gov will begin shipping through the US Postal Service this week, according to the government’s website. Americans are supposed to be able to order four kits per address under a federal program launched last week. Tests should be mailed within seven to 12 days of being ordered. Customers should receive email notifications with shipping updates, including estimated delivery date and a tracking number on USPS.com. “All tests distributed under this program are FDA-cleared rapid home antigen tests,” the website says. The White House also announced last week that it would begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free at pharmacies and community health centers. .

Tax season has officially arrived

First-time filers can file their 2021 tax returns online starting Monday. This is earlier than the delayed start of February 12 last year, when the IRS needed more time for numerous pandemic-related reasons, including new tax rules that were enacted in late December 2020. The January 24 kickoff puts the IRS back on a more normal course: In 2020, the IRS began processing 2019 tax returns on January 27. Most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days of filing electronically if they choose direct deposit and there are no problems with their tax return, according to the IRS.

NASA’s $10 billion space telescope will reach its final destination

The James Webb Space Telescope, the $10 billion successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, on Monday reaches its final destination – almost a million kilometers from Earth. The telescope was launched from South America on Christmas Day. Named after former NASA Administrator James E. Webb, who oversaw the agency from 1961 to 1968, the Webb Telescope is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble. Scientists hope Webb will be able to capture the light scattered by stars and galaxies 13.7 billion years ago. “Webb will also likely reveal new questions for future generations of scientists to answer, some of which may not even have been born yet,” said scientist Klaus Pontoppidan.

MLB lockdown talks resume

Locked out MLB players plan to make a counter offer to management on Monday as the parties work toward a new collective bargaining agreement. Baseball’s ninth work stoppage, the first since 1995, began Dec. 2 after a five-year labor contract expired. Unhappy with a 4% drop in payrolls from 2015 levels, players have demanded a significant change that includes greater liberalization of free agency and eligibility for salary arbitration. Time is running out to reach an agreement in time for spring training, which is due to start on February 16. Opening day March 31 is also at risk, given that players must show up, follow COVID-19 protocols and be at least three weeks old. workouts that include a minimum number of exhibition games.

Families of US Embassy staff in Ukraine ordered to return home

The State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all U.S. personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion. The ministry also said non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at government expense. The move came amid growing tensions over Russia’s military buildup on the Ukrainian border that were not eased during talks on Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva. . State Department officials stressed that the embassy in the capital of Kyiv will remain open and the announcement does not constitute an evacuation. The move had been considered for some time and does not reflect an easing of US support for Ukraine, the officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.