WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration quietly launched its website Tuesday for Americans to request free at-home COVID-19 tests, a day before the site officially went live.
The website, COVIDTests.gov, now includes a link for Americans to order four home tests per residential address, which will be delivered by the US Postal Service. It marks President Joe Biden’s latest step to address criticism of low inventory and long lines for testing during a nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the website was in “beta testing” and operating at “limited capacity” before its official launch. The website will officially launch mid-morning on Wednesday, Psaki said.
Biden announced last month that the United States would purchase 500 million home tests to launch the program and on Thursday the president announced he was doubling the order to 1 billion tests.
But Americans shouldn’t expect a quick turnaround on orders, and they’ll need to plan ahead and request the tests well before they meet federal guidelines on when to use a test.
The White House said “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering” via USPS, which reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its first-class parcel service in the continental United States. .
Officials stressed that the federal website is just one way for people to get hold of COVID-19 tests, and shortages of home test kits have shown signs of easing as the supply increased in the market.
As of Saturday, private insurance companies are required to cover the cost of rapid home tests, allowing Americans to be reimbursed for the tests they purchase from pharmacies and online retailers. This covers up to eight tests per month.