Originally slated to go live today, Wednesday January 19th, the Biden Administration made available the COVIDtests.gov website a day early.
Those tracking the activity of the website were able to submit their information on the website to have 4 free at-home COVID tests sent to their address. It should be noted that only one order can be submitted for any one address, so people with more than four individuals in their household will still need to seek alternatives for additional tests.
The program marks the latest step by President Biden to address criticism of low inventory and long lines for testing during the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said the website was in “beta testing” and operating at a “limited capacity” ahead of its official launch. By this we can only assume that the White House was testing the website’s ability to handle heavy traffic flow, as often websites will crash when flooded with traffic. At points yesterday (keep in mind the website wasn’t officially announced to be active yet), more than 750,000 people were accessing the site at the same time.
IT experts from across the government were working to get the site ready, as Psaki reported that the administration was anticipating a “bug or two.” For anyone encountering issues with the website, a spokesperson for the Postal Service has advised they file a service request at emailus.usps.com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry or contact a help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS.
President Biden announced last month that the U.S. would purchase 500 million at-home tests to launch the program, and on Thursday announced that he’d be doubling the order to 1 billion tests.
“Tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering,” says the White House, and will be shipped via USPS. Currently, USPS is reporting shipping times of 1-3 days for its first-class package service in the continental United States.
Private insurance companies are now required to cover the cost of at-home rapid tests, which allows Americans to be reimbursed for tests they purchase at pharmacies and online retailers. The government has acknowledged the shortages of at-home test kits being in limited supply due to demand, but signs are showing an easing of those shortages as more supply has hit the market. Up to eight tests are covered by insurance every month, so be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to ensure you’re being safe and protecting those around you.