How to order free rapid COVID-19 tests

After weeks of pharmacies selling out of rapid tests, Americans now have an easier option than scouring local retailers: a new government website that sends tests to your home.  

COVIDTests.gov went live on Tuesday in a “limited capacity” to work out any issues ahead of an official launch on Wednesday, the White House said.

Any American can order rapid tests for free through the website, and they will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. All that is required is a name and mailing address; no credit card information is needed. 

However, there are limits. Each residential address is limited to four tests. And the tests will usually take seven to 12 days to ship, the White House said.   

Still, the website does make tests more readily available, something health experts have been pushing for months.  

“We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiPsaki claps back at Youngkin over school mask mandates Clyburn says he ‘wholeheartedly’ endorses Biden’s voting rights remarks Democrats call on Biden to step up virus response MORE said Tuesday, but noted that the site builds on the Postal Service’s existing website.

She said the official launch would take place “mid-morning” on Wednesday. 

President BidenJoe BidenMacro grid will keep the lights on Pelosi suggests filibuster supporters ‘dishonor’ MLK’s legacy on voting rights Sanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown MORE has been facing pressure to expand access to testing given the shortages of rapid tests at retailers, as well as long lines at testing sites. 

Many experts say the White House should have acted months ago to set up the kind of free rapid test program that is now launching.  

With a limit of four tests per address, the website alone will not provide for the kind of frequent testing that many experts have called for.  

As of Saturday, health insurers are also now required to cover up to eight rapid tests per month, though that process can be cumbersome in that it often requires people to pay up front and then submit their receipts for reimbursement from their insurer.  

The new government website is currently distributing an order of 500 million rapid tests that the Biden administration placed, and last week the White House announced that it is placing an additional order of 500 million rapid tests for future use.  

Still, some Democrats are calling for far greater test availability, including a measure in Congress to produce and distribute enough tests so every American can test twice a week.   

The White House argues its testing actions have been a “building process” over time. It points to a previous $3 billion investment in rapid testing, and an increase in supply from 24 million tests in August to more than 300 million in December.   

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