(HealthDay News) — It was slated to debut on Wednesday, but the federal government quietly launched its website for Americans to order free at-home COVID-19 tests one day early.
By going to COVIDTests.gov, individuals can quickly order four tests and have them delivered to their homes by the U.S. Postal Service. Only four tests will be given to a single residential address, and there is a note on the website that the earliest the tests will be sent out is late January. “Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days,” the website says.
According to the Associated Press, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the early launch is due to “beta testing” and is as yet working at “limited capacity” ahead of the website’s official Wednesday debut. She added that “a bug or two” might occur, but a team of IT experts is working to ensure the launch goes smoothly.
The new online distribution locus is one effort by President Joe Biden to address widespread shortages of test kits and long lines at testing sites, as the fast-spreading omicron variant pushes COVID-19 numbers ever higher. Biden initially said he was ordering 500 million tests for free distribution but then doubled that number to 1 billion last week.
The late January delivery date set by COVIDTests.gov may come just as supply issues at pharmacies and elsewhere around the country begin to ease, so federal officials are stressing that the website is just one option for Americans looking for at-home tests.
Beginning Saturday, new regulations have required that private insurers pay for up to eight at-home rapid COVID-19 tests per month, reimbursing enrollees for tests purchased online or at pharmacies.