The White House has announced that people will be able to order free COVID-19 tests from COVIDTests.gov starting Wednesday, January 19th. This follows a promise that the government will set up a website to distribute 500 million tests, as President Joe Biden announced in December.
You only need to enter two pieces of information to have a test sent to you – your name and your address. In its announcement, the White House said the tests would be sent through the U.S. Postal Service “within 7-12 days of ordering.” Currently, the limit is four tests per. residential address.
To order their test, the only two things people need are their name and mailing address. Tests are typically mailed within 7-12 days of ordering and delivered in first class through the US Postal Service.
– The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 14, 2022
On Wednesday this week, a White House adviser said the site “should be online this weekend.” Technically, the government has set that deadline – you can visit COVIDTests.gov right now, although it currently shows a landing page telling you that tests will be available on Wednesday and that you do not have to enter a credit card number to get one.
The USPS is not only responsible for getting the tests to people. It was also used to develop a website to handle potentially millions of people trying to get a test at the same time, according to Protocol. The report quotes an official as saying that it “takes our website launch very seriously” and that it “did not start from scratch” in building the site. The US Digital Service will also help launch the site and provide support when needed, Protocol say.
Given the government’s less than stellar reputation for launching health websites, there is some skepticism about whether the site will be able to handle the traffic – and some have rightly pointed out that some of the most vulnerable people may have difficulty to get online and navigate an internet page. A White House statement said you would also be able to call a hotline to book tests if you are unable to access the site and that the government will “work with national and local community-based organizations to support the nation’s hardest – hit and highest risk groups when requesting tests. “