Jan 14, 2022 - Health

You can start ordering free COVID tests Wednesday

Illustration of an arrow made out of cotton swabs.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The White House said Friday a new website, COVIDTests.gov, will begin accepting orders Jan. 19 for free rapid tests shipped to Americans' homes.

Why it matters: The White House emphasized the importance of testing during the Omicron surge, with President Biden on Thursday announcing plans for the government to have 1 billion tests.

Driving the news: Americans can order four tests per residential address beginning Jan. 19 from the website.

  • The tests will ship within 7 to 12 days of ordering, senior administration officials said during a press call Friday, but that timeline could shorten as the program ramps up.
  • The U.S. Postal Service will package and deliver the tests, with orders in the continental U.S. sent through first class package service.
  • There will also be a call line for Americans who lack internet access to order tests.

What they're saying: "There's lots of ways to get tests, and this is just one more," a senior administration official explained.

Flashback: The debacle surrounding the rollout of the HealthCare.gov website during the Obama administration looms over a new government website, but senior administration officials said they are confident the site will keep up with demand.

  • The U.S. Digital Service, a group of government technologists, has assisted the Postal Service with the website.
  • "We didn't start from scratch," a senior administration official said, adding that, the Postal Service already has a "website that does sell goods to the public and has for quite some time. Of course, every website launch poses some risks, we're quite cognizant of that."
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