A federal government website launched a day earlier than expected, allowing Americans to order free, at-home COVID-19 tests on Tuesday.
Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four tests, which are expected to ship in 7-12 days, at covidtests.gov. The site encourages citizens to order tests in advance, so they have them when they need them.
The free tests are in addition to the eight tests per month most insured Americans can receive at no cost through reimbursement from their insurance company as of Jan. 15.
Previously, the Biden administration said individuals would be able to start ordering the tests on Wednesday.
Administration officials “did not state a specific time on Wednesday when orders could begin,” Kelly Lienhard of Inside Health Policy reports. “The officials said the government currently has over 420 million tests under contract and they are confident the government will be able to procure the remaining 80 million by Wednesday.” The estimated cost is $4 billion.
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The tests are rapid at-home tests that have been granted emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. Federal studies “have confirmed the tests can detect the omicron variant,” Lienhard reports.
“Americans can expect to receive the tests within seven to 12 days of placing an order through the website. The government is working with USPS to ship the tests for free to all 50 states and U.S. territories through priority mail. Administration officials said they projected the timing based on typical shipment times, but they anticipate it will be quicker as the program matures.”
President Biden announced Thursday that he had directed the government to procure 500 million more tests. Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday that the federal government was “hijacking” supplies of tests that had been ordered by Maryland and other states.
“Administration officials stressed that the COVID-19 test mailing initiative is only part of its testing strategy and added that there are myriad other ways to be screened for the virus, including through pharmacies and community health centers,” Lienhard reports.
Julia Hunter of Hoptown Chronicle contributed to this report.