The Biden Administration quietly launched its website for Americans to request free at-home COVID- 19 tests on Tuesday, a day before the site was scheduled to go online.
There is a link to order four at-home tests per residential address, which is now included in the COVIDTests.gov website. President Joe Biden has taken a new step to address the criticism of low inventory and long lines for testing during a nationwide surge in COVID 19 cases due to the omicron variant.
The White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the website was in beta testing and operating at a limited capacity ahead of its official launch. The website will launch mid-morning Wednesday, Psaki said.
She said that the administration was anticipating a bug or two, but they had IT experts from across the government working to get the site ready.
Biden announced last month that the U.S. would purchase 500 million at-home tests to launch the program, and on Thursday he announced that he was doubling the order to 1 billion tests.
Americans shouldn't expect a rapid turnaround on the orders, and they will have to plan ahead and request the tests well before they meet federal guidelines for when to use a test.
The White House said that tests will typically ship within 7 -- 12 days of ordering through USPS, which reports shipping times of 1 -- 3 days for its first-class package service in the continental United States.
The federal website is just one way for people to obtain COVID- 19 tests, and shortages of at-home test kits have shown signs of easing as more supply has hit the market, according to officials.
Since Saturday, private insurance companies have been required to cover the cost of at-home rapid tests, allowing Americans to be reimbursed for tests they purchase at pharmacies and online retailers. That covers up to eight tests per month.