WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal website where Americans can request free COVID-19 tests will begin accepting orders Wednesday as the White House seeks to address nationwide shortages, but supplies will be limited to just four free tests per household.
Starting Jan. 19, the COVIDTests.gov website will provide testing at no cost, including no shipping costs, the White House announced Friday.
As he faced criticism for low inventory and long lines for testing, President Joe Biden announced last month that the United States would purchase 500 million home tests to kick off the program and on Thursday, the president announced he was doubling the order to 1 billion tests. .
But Americans shouldn’t expect fast order processing, and they’ll need to plan ahead and request the tests long before they meet federal guidelines on when to use a test.
The White House said “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering” via the US Postal Service, which reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its First Class Parcel Service to the States. -Continental United.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend home testing for COVID-19 systems, including fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms and muscle aches, five days after potential exposure to COVID-19, or as part of a test for-stay protocols in schools and workplaces.
“Certainly if you’re going to get together as a family, if you’re going to a gathering where people are immunocompromised or where they’re elderly or where you have people who might be unvaccinated or poorly protected against a vaccine that might be an opportunity you want test,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.
Officials stressed that the federal website is just one way for people to get COVID-19 tests. Starting Saturday, private insurance companies will be required to cover the cost of rapid home tests, allowing Americans to be reimbursed for the tests they purchase from pharmacies and online retailers. This covers up to eight tests per month.
The White House said the four-test limit on website orders will be applied to each residential address and will apply to the first 500 million tests. He estimates the cost of procuring and distributing the first block of tests at $4 billion.
Officials said they were aware that any website launch carries certain risks — and memories of the disastrous deployment under the Obama administration of Healthcare.gov are still fresh — but said they believe they are in the right place. to handle the expected demand for testing. .