TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For the first time, you can order free at-home COVID-19 tests from the government.
Testing has been one of the biggest challenges for the Biden administration. But the website COVIDtests.gov went live with a soft launch Tuesday – one day ahead of schedule.
To request the tests, you just have to provide two things: Your name and mailing address. While it takes just seconds to place your order, you should be prepared to wait days – or even weeks – to actually get the tests.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the website launch during a briefing Tuesday.
“So, it will officially launch tomorrow morning, it’s in the beta testing phase right now,” Psaki said. “Every website launch in our view comes with risk, we can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two.”
There were no reports of widespread issues Tuesday.
Thus far, the administration has 420 million tests under contract. Officials anticipate it’ll cost $4 billion to purchase and distribute 500 million tests.
On the new website, each household can request four rapid antigen tests for free. The website states orders will usually ship in seven to 12 days.
Dr. Joseph Perno with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg says it’s recommended you use the at-home tests in the following three situations:
- First, if you begin to have symptoms consistent with COVID;
- Second, at least five days after close contact with someone who has COVID;
- And third, if you are gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or are unvaccinated.
“I would probably do it the day I was going to visit grandma,” Dr. Perno said.
The White House hasn’t disclosed the brand of tests to be delivered but Dr. Perno says each kit will come with instructions you should closely follow.
“These are typically nasal swabs where the individual will take the swab and put it in the middle part of their nose,” he explained. “It’s not the one that needs to go way back where it feels like it’s touching your brain.”
There were isolated reports of issues with the new site Tuesday. Apparently, in some instances, the website was enforcing the four tests per household rule on entire apartment buildings.
8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi will be closely monitoring the official launch Wednesday. If you experience an issue, send her an email at: MSaeidi@WFLA.com.