Free COVID-19 testing rollout starts online soon



The day before the planned rollout of free COVID-19 tests distributed by the Biden administration, some Americans placed an order for free shipping through a form posted by the US Postal Service.

Last week, the White House announced that it would publicly launch the website on Wednesday. However, some early visitors to the site Tuesday morning were able to see a button to order their free trials – a limited rollout that appears to have expanded to many visitors. more on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a website that tracks traffic to government websites, public interest in the site is skyrocketing, outstripping all other government websites. By early Tuesday afternoon, nearly 380,000 had visited the test site, while interest in tracking packages sent by the US Postal service was just over 31,500.

“It will officially launch tomorrow morning. It is currently in beta testing,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday.

Any US residential address is eligible to order four COVID-19 rapid antigen tests free of charge from the Post Office, which will begin shipping the tests at the end of January.

Some Americans were able to order free home COVID-19 testing through the White House program earlier this week, given priority access through a portal run by the Association of Public Health Workers. Country for people living in a “high-risk” zip code.

“Orders will be prioritized for equitable distribution based on communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the NACHW website says.

The White House also said it plans to launch a hotline that will allow Americans to order their own tests by phone, should they have trouble ordering on the website.

The administration says its four-test limit has been imposed “to promote broad access” to the program. It has also kicked off other efforts – including asking private insurers to cover the cost of over-the-counter home testing – to help expand the distribution of needed tests.

Federal health officials have expressed confidence in the Postal Service’s ability to collect testing orders and respond to a possible spike in demand.

“We are not starting from scratch. The Postal Service is an important partner here. They’ve had a website that sells merchandise to the public and have been for a long time,” an administration official told reporters at a White House briefing last week.

COVID-19 test orders will be delivered free of charge by first class mail. Despite informative reports of delayed shipments being hampered by winter storms and the COVID-19 outbreak, the US Postal Service announced last week that 90% of first-class mail was delivered on time within the week. the first of January.

“The 650,000 women and men of the United States Postal Service are ready to deliver and are proud to play an important role in supporting the health needs of the American public. We have been working closely with the Regulatory Authority and are well prepared to accept and deliver the test kits on the first day of the program’s launch,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement. .

A spokesman for the Post Office declined to provide more details about the early launch.

Several people on social media have claimed to have encountered a number of problems sending their orders, from placing the order to places not listed as a home address to trying to get it delivered. different units in the same building.

“Every website launch is, in our opinion, a risk. We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two, but the best tech teams in the administration and the Post Office are working hard to make this a success,” said Psaki.

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