Free covid tests: Federal ordering website launches next week

The federal website where Americans can request free COVID-19 tests will begin accepting orders on Wednesday because the White House appears to be addressing nationwide shortcomings, but deliveries will be limited to just four free tests per home.

As of January 19, the website will provide free trials, including no shipping fees, the White House announced Friday.

When he faced criticism for low inventory and long test queues, President Joe Biden announced last month that the United States would buy 500 million home tests to launch the program, and on Thursday the president announced that he had doubled the order to 1 billion tests.

But Americans should not expect a quick turnaround in orders and they will need to plan ahead and request the tests well in advance before meeting federal guidelines for when to use a test.

The White House said that “tests will usually be shipped within 7-12 days of ordering” via the US Postal Service, which reports delivery times of 1-3 days for its first-class parcel service on the continental United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends tests at home when you experience covid-19 systems including fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms and muscle aches, five days after a potential covid-19 exposure, or as part of a test-stay protocol in schools and workplaces.

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“Certainly if you are going to gather with the family, if you are going to a gathering where people are immunosuppressed or where they are older or where you have people who may be unvaccinated or poorly protected from a vaccine that may be an option you want to test,” he said. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Chief, on Wednesday.

Officials stressed that the federal website is just a way for people to obtain COVID-19 tests. As of Saturday, private insurance companies will be required to cover the cost of quick tests at home, allowing Americans to be reimbursed for tests they buy at pharmacies and online retailers. It covers up to eight tests per month.

The White House said that the limit of four tests for website orders will be applied to each residential address and will apply to the first tranche of 500 million tests. It estimates the cost of buying and distributing the first test block at $ 4 billion.

Officials said they are aware that each launch of a website carries certain risks – and memories of the disastrous launch under Obama’s administration of are still fresh – but said they believe they are well positioned to handle the expected demand for tester.

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