The Federal government’s new website for ordering free rapid COVID-19 tests went live today – a day ahead of its scheduled Jan. 19 opening date. The new website allows every household in the U.S.to order test kits online at COVIDTests.gov.

 

The Biden administration announced plans for the website back in December as part of an effort to make millions of rapid tests available due to the quick spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

 

Initially, 500 million tests will be available for order, and tests are limited to four per residential address.

 

The tests will ship within seven to 12 days of ordering, but the administration expects this timeframe to decrease in the future. The administration is partnering with the U.S. Postal Service on the distribution effort.

 

On the back end, the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) is providing support for the website launch. To meet the demand, USDS has put in place monitoring tools based on industry best practices.

 

“Testing is an important tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” according to a press release from the White House. “Public health experts recommend that Americans use at-home tests if they begin to have symptoms, at least five days after coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or if they are gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or unvaccinated.”

 

To help ensure equity and access for all households, the administration is also launching a call line to help people order tests if they are unable to access the website. They also plan to work with national and local community-based organizations to support the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities.

 

In addition to the new Federal government website, there are now over 20,000 free testing sites across the nation. That figure includes four times as many pharmacies participating in the Federal pharmacy free testing program as there were at the beginning of 2021, as well as Federal surge free testing sites, and more free testing sites opening each week.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.
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