The Biden Administration says it will start sending out at-home covid tests from a new government web site on Wednesday – but with a delivery window that could last longer than a typical case of covid.
The administration has contracted for more than 420 million home tests kits, a senior administration official told reporters on a press call Friday. The tests will be free to the American public, with each household able to order up to four of them.
But with current wait times, it will take between 7 and 12 days for shipment within the continental, the official said. The U.S. Postal Service will be providing first class package delivery.
‘We anticipate that that window will shorten as we get further along in this program,’ said the official.
Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories may have to wait longer for ‘priority mail’ delivery.’
Those wait times may prove longer than some Americans are used to. A quick online search Friday revealed that Amazon.com could deliver a lawnmower by Monday, a holiday. Even in-demand at-home covid tests were available for delivery by Wednesday, the day the program goes live.
President Joe Biden said this week the administration would be sending out 500 million covid tests on top of the 500 million already being ordered for distribution
Americans can visit covidtests.gov to order their free tests.
The site was live Friday, but said ordering begins Jan. 19th. There is no queue for advance ordering.
Officials have said they don’t expect problems with the web launch. The Obama administration dealt with months of headaches over the launch of its complicated Healthcare.gov web site.
‘We’re taking our website launch very seriously. We didn’t start from scratch,’ said the official.
People stand in line to receive 2 free at home COVID-19 Antigen Rapid test kits at the Gaithersburg Public Library in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA, 12 January 2022. The Omicron variant of the coronavirus pandemic is the dominant strain in many countries as case numbers spike around the world
There has been a nationwide surge in demand for tests
The new web site starts taking orders next week
One problem posed by the nationwide shortage of tests is that people who fear they got covid or had a close contact who tested positive may want test information to make decisions about their activities.
The tests come as the U.S. has been hitting peaks for infections and hospitalizations amid the omicron variant. Some experts believe the waive could peak soon, which may mean many of the tests go out after it has passed.
A free call line will help people who have ‘difficulty accessing the internet,’ according to the administration.
Additionally, as of January 15 the administration is requiring private insurance companies will to cover at-home COVID-19 tests.
According to an administration fact sheet, ‘In addition to this new program, there are many other options for Americans to get tested. There are now over 20,000 free testing sites across the nation, including four times as many pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy free testing program as there were in January 2021, as well as federal surge free testing sites, with more free testing sites opening each week.’
Tests have also gone to community health centers, and schools were awarded a total of $10 billion for testing.