Health

Free COVID Tests: Federal Order Site to Launch Next Week

A federal website where Americans can request free COVID-19 tests will begin accepting orders Wednesday as the White House hopes to address a nationwide shortage, but supplies will be limited to just four free home tests.

The White House announced on Friday that the COVIDTests.gov website will provide tests free of charge starting January 19, including no shipping fees.

Faced with criticism for low inventories and long waiting lists for testing, President Joe Biden announced last month that the US would buy 500 million home tests to launch the program, and on Thursday the president announced he was doubling the order to 1 billion tests. .

But Americans shouldn’t expect fast turnarounds, and will have to plan ahead and request tests well before they meet federal regulations on when to use the test.

The White House said “tests are typically shipped within 7-12 days of order” via the US Postal Service, which reports a 1-3 day delivery time for its premium package delivery service in the continental United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends in-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 coronavirus test. protocols for attending schools and workplaces.

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“Of course, if you are going to get together with the family, if you go to a meeting where there are immunocompromised or elderly people, or where there are people who may be unvaccinated or poorly protected from the vaccine, this could be an opportunity. you want to get tested,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday.

Officials stressed that the federal website is just one way to purchase tests for COVID-19. Starting Saturday, private insurance companies will be required to cover the cost of rapid home tests, allowing Americans to reimburse the cost of tests they buy at pharmacies and online retailers. This covers up to eight tests per month.

The White House said a limit of four tests per website order would apply to each residential address and would apply to the first tranche of 500 million tests. He estimates that the cost of buying and distributing the first set of tests is $4 billion.

Officials said they recognize that any website launch comes with some risks — and memories of the disastrous rollout of Healthcare.gov under the Obama administration are still fresh — but said they believe they are well positioned to meet expected demand for tests. .


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