The federal government quietly launched a website on Tuesday where Americans can request free, at-home COVID testing kits. The website is COVIDTests.gov.
Free COVID testing kits website launched
For a long time, America was witnessing a massive shortage of COVID testing kits, which worried the government as new variants continued emerging in the world.
Now, people can order up to four testing kits at any given address, which will be delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS).
AT HOME TESTING KITS:
The new website to order free at-home COVID tests went live today, a day earlier than expected. More on how to get yours:https://t.co/y5SMo2h2Lm
— Jocelyn Moran (@jocelynamoran) January 18, 2022
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the website is currently in “beta testing” mode and only accessible to a limited audience. Thus, Psaki stated the complete version of the site will be launched on Wednesday morning.
After the beta launch, the website was facing some technical issues. According to USPS, this only occurred on only a small percentage of orders.
At some point on Tuesday, over 750,000 people accessed the website all at once, as per government tracking data. However, the number of orders placed on the release day was unknown.
The White House press secretary indicated the government is expecting some bugs in the website, but pledged IT experts are ready to tackle any challenge.
COVID testing kits project to face some big challenges
Last month, Joe Biden announced plans to distribute 500 million at-home COVID testing kits, a number which was revised to one billion later on.
However, according to the Associated Press, Americans should not expect to receive the delivery immediately; they should also place orders ahead of when they plan to take the tests.
As per the White House, a typical shipping time of 7-12 days will be applied to anyone ordering the kits, compared to the USPS’ regular claims, which promise to deliver first-class packages within one to three days in continental America.
Now, private insurance companies will have to pay for at-home COVID testing kits, which covers up to eight testing kits per month; thus, Americans will be reimbursed for the testing kits they purchase from online retailers or pharmacies.
The Federal Government now requires insurance companies to cover the costs of at home COVID-19 test kits.
But they’re not easy to find because they’re in such high demand.
We found the Walgreens in San Francisco’s Noe Valley was fully stocked. But they’re selling fast. pic.twitter.com/dmsFUg60Yn
— Sergio Quintana (@svqjournalist) January 17, 2022
Alex Howard, the director of the Digital Democracy Project, stated unlike Obama’s messy healthcare website of 2013, the project of the Biden administration should not have too many bugs, as it is simpler in nature.
Likewise, Howard claimed the testing website is also much simpler than the Vaccines.gov website, which is used to find nearby vaccination centers and clinics.
According to the director, the tricky part of the whole project is not the website, but the physical distribution of the testing kits. He noted the government only issued tax documents on this massive scale.
Reportedly, some of the biggest challenges for the administration include multiple people trying to order from the same apartment building address (and failing to do so), due to the four kits per address limit.
Similarly, people trying to order extra kits by tricking the system can also cause headaches for the administration.