Free COVID Tests: Federal ordering website launches next week

The federal website, where Americans can request free COVID-19 testing, will begin accepting orders on Wednesday, as the White House appears to address nationwide shortages, but supplies will be limited to just four free tests per year. home.

From January 19, the website will provide free tests, including no shipping fees, the White House announced Friday.

Faced with criticism of low inventory and long queues for testing, 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 he was doubling the order for 1 billion tests. .

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

The White House said that “tests will typically be shipped within 7-12 days of ordering” through the U.S. Postal Service, which reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its premium parcel service in the continental United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends testing 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 testing -to- residence protocols at schools and workplaces.

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“At least if you’re going to be reunited with family, if you’re going to a gathering where people are immunocompromised, or where they’re older, or where you have people who might be unvaccinated or poorly protected against a vaccine, it could be a opportunity you want to test, ”said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, on Wednesday.

Officials stressed that the federal website is only one way for people to obtain COVID-19 tests. From Saturday, private insurance companies will be required to cover the cost of quick home tests, 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 the limit of four tests for website orders will be applied to each residential address and will apply to the first installment of 500 million tests. It estimates the cost of buying and distributing the first block of testing to be $ 4 billion.

Officials said they are aware that any launch of a site involves some risks – and memories of the catastrophic rollout during the Obama administration of are still fresh – but said they believe they are good positioned to handle expected demand for tests.

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