(Trends Wide) — Americans can now sign up for free at-home COVID-19 tests provided by the federal government.
Although the website was formally launched on Wednesday, the Biden administration quietly launched it the day before. Requests for free covid-19 tests started pouring in immediately.
The program is part of the administration’s effort to increase testing availability amid a nationwide surge in cases due to the omicron variant. The White House has ordered 1,000 million tests to distribute them.
Here’s what you need to know about getting free covid-19 tests from the federal government:
How do I order the tests?
Go to covidtests.gov and sign up. You will need to enter your name, email and residential address. Orders will not be sent to companies.
You should receive an email confirming your order and providing tracking information.
Thousands of readers have told Trends Wide that the process was quick and easy, taking just a few minutes. However, some reported receiving a message that tests had already been ordered for their address.
How many tests can I get?
Four free covid-19 tests will be sent to each residential address, regardless of household size.
When will I receive them?
The US Postal Service will begin shipping tests in late January, according to the covidtests.gov website.
The tests should be shipped within 7 to 12 days of being requested, the White House said.
What if I get an error message?
In addition to receiving messages that proofs have already been ordered for their address, some users get that their home address is invalid.
If you are having trouble ordering free COVID-19 tests, please submit a request to the US Postal Service.
What do I do if I don’t have internet access?
The federal government is also creating a phone line to request tests. It is currently being tested and additional details will be known by the end of the week, the White House said Tuesday.
What if I need more than four free covid-19 tests or can’t wait weeks to receive them?
Most Americans with private insurance can buy home COVID-19 tests online or in stores and pay for them at the time of purchase or get reimbursed by filing a claim with their insurer.
Insurers can establish a network of preferred stores, pharmacies and online retailers where consumers can receive tests at no up-front cost. People could still buy the tests outside of that network, but insurers would only have to reimburse up to $12 for each one.
No prescriptions needed. You can get up to eight tests for each covered person each month.
Medicare, however, is not reimbursing its enrollees for home tests purchased from retail sites. What has created discomfort among some older citizens.
Additionally, many Americans have complained that they can’t find COVID-19 tests because they are out of stock at retail stores and online stores.
You might also need some face masks. Can I get them from the federal government?
Starting next week, Americans can start picking up N95 masks at various local pharmacies and community health centers through another Biden administration initiative. The program should be fully operational by early February, according to a White House official.
The Biden administration will distribute 400 million N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile in an effort to slow the coronavirus pandemic.
Americans can receive up to three masks per person.
Earlier this month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidelines to recommend that people wear the most protective mask they can find, that fit, and that they wear consistently.