A new U.S. government website has been launched that allows Americans to place orders for free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. Here’s everything you need to know.
The website rollout is an initiative by the Biden administration, which believes COVID tests should be free and accessible to all. As well as offering the American public the opportunity to order over-the-counter testing kits to use at home, the administration will also provide pharmacies and community health centers across America with 400 million free N95 masks.
The website went live on January 18, and according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, it is currently operating at a limited capacity to allow for troubleshooting. When a user visits the site, they are encouraged to click on “order free at-home tests.” They will then be redirected to an URL where they can order the tests free of charge.
Every U.S. household is eligible for a maximum of four tests. However, some critics are of the opinion that this causes a problem for larger households or people who wish to undergo regular testing. Anyone attempting to order more than four tests for a single household will be met with a message that reads: “Our records show that at-home COVID-19 tests have already been ordered for this address. We are unable to process duplicate orders for the same address.”
As the tests are free, the site won’t ask for credit card details. All that the users need to provide is their full names and a residential mailing address. The tests will be shipped within a timeframe of 7-12 days. However, a senior administration official has announced that as the program ramps up, the postage time is anticipated to shorten significantly. Per The Wall Street Journal, the official said, “What the Postal Service has done is a lot of work to make sure they’re ready for this and they are prepared. They’ve expanded their staffing in the holiday season to accommodate that volume and they’re leveraging that now.”
The website recommends that anyone having any of the documented COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, or sore throat) order a home-test kit. They also advise testing after at least five days of being in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. If users encounter difficulties while using the website or if the website crashes, they will be provided with a free call line to order the tests.