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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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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."

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Mike Allen, author of AM
12 mins ago - Economy & Business

Small businesses see hiring as No. 1 worry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Almost every small business owner in a Goldman Sachs survey is having trouble hiring — and two-thirds think the federal government has done too little to ease their hiring, supply-chain and inflation worries.

Why it matters: The Goldman Sachs research gives a vivid window into the continuing headwinds and hardship for entrepreneurs.

16 mins ago - World

NATO sends ships, fighter jets to eastern Europe over Russia threat

Service members of Russia's Eastern Military District units attend a welcoming ceremony as they arrive at unfamiliar training ranges in Belarus. Photo: Russian Defence Ministry/TASS via Getty Images

NATO said Monday it's sending more ships and fighter jets to eastern Europe due to Russia's buildup of troops near Ukraine.

Driving the news: "NATO Allies are putting forces on standby and sending additional ships and fighter jets to NATO deployments in eastern Europe, reinforcing Allied deterrence and defense as Russia continues its military build-up in and around Ukraine," per a NATO statement.