WASHINGTON — The Biden Administration on Tuesday quietly launched its website for Americans to request free at-home COVID-19 tests, a day before the site was scheduled to officially go online.
COVIDTests.gov has a link that allows Americans to order up to four tests at home per residence address. These will be shipped by the U.S. Postal Service. This is the latest move by President Joe Biden in addressing criticisms of low inventories and long testing lines during the nationwide spike in COVID-19 case numbers due to the new omicron version.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the website was in “beta testing” and operating at a “limited capacity” ahead of its official launch. Psaki stated that the website would officially go live Wednesday morning.
She added that the administration was anticipating a “bug or two,” but had IT experts from across the government working to get the site ready.
Biden last month announced that the U.S. would buy 500 million home tests in order to launch the program. On Thursday, the president said that he had increased the order by doubling it to 1,000,000 tests.
But Americans shouldn’t expect a rapid turnaround on the orders and they will have to plan ahead and request the tests well before they meet federal guidelines for when to use a test.
The White House said “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering” through USPS, which reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its first-class package service in the continental United States.
Officials stressed that COVID-19 testing can be obtained only through the federal website. There are also shortages in at-home kits.
On Saturday, all private insurers were required to reimburse Americans for the costs of home rapid tests. It covers as many as eight tests per calendar month.