HEALTH

Beta website to order free COVID-19 tests is up and running

Jan 18, 2022, 12:27 PM | Updated: 12:41 pm
Originally Published: 18 JAN 22 13:04 ET

(CNN) — The federal government has launched a beta version of its website to sign up for free COVID-19 tests, allowing people to order a maximum of four tests shipped directly to their household.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Tuesday that the government website to order free Covid-19 tests is up and running as part of a “beta phase” ahead of the government website’s formal rollout Wednesday morning.

RELATED: Home COVID tests to be covered by insurers starting Saturday

COVIDtests.gov is in the beta phase right now, which is a standard part of the process typically as it’s being kind of tested in the early stages of being rolled out,” Psaki told reporters at the White House. “It will officially launch tomorrow morning.”

A White House official said this is only the beta phase to ensure the site works seamlessly.

“In alignment with website launch best practices, COVIDtests.gov is currently in its beta phase, which means that the website is operating at limited capacity ahead of its official launch,” a White House official told CNN. “This is standard practice to address the troubleshooting and ensure as smooth of an official launch tomorrow as possible. We expect the website to officially launch mid-morning tomorrow.”

RELATED: Biden announces plan to mail Americans 500 million at-home rapid Covid-19 tests

Though the official said the free COVID-19 tests site was only operating at a limited capacity, it’s unclear how the initial phase of the site is limited. Once shipping information was entered online, the site instructed people that tests would begin shipping in “late January” and the United States Postal Service, which is handling the deliveries, “will only send one set of 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests to valid residential addresses.”

Late last week, administration officials said that once a request is made through the website, the tests are expected to ship within seven to 12 days. Requests are limited to four tests per household, regardless of household size.

In addition to the website, the federal government is setting up a hotline to request the tests. It’s not clear when the hotline will launch.

The President announced his plan to make half a billion Covid-19 rapid tests available to Americans by mail last month ahead of Christmas, as the Omicron variant was surging across the US.

RELATED: Biden administration to boost at-home rapid testing with $1 billion investment

Now, the variant makes up almost all of US cases.

The Omicron variant caused 99.5% of new coronavirus cases in the US last week, according to estimates posted Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The US is currently averaging 777,453 new Covid-19 cases and 1,797 new deaths per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Overall, the Biden administration has pledged to acquire 1 billion rapid tests — initially the 500 million to distribute by mail to Americans for free, with another 500 million announced recently to meet future demand.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus (updated Jan. 2022)

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 spreads from person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Get vaccinated. If vaccinated, get a booster shot.
  • Wear a mask. Here are the current CDC recommendations (as of Jan. 12, 2022):
    • People aged 2 years and older who are not vaccinated should wear a face covering when indoors.
    • When outdoors, masks are generally not needed unless you are in a crowded setting.
    • Even if they are vaccinated, people with weakened immune systems may still be at risk and should wear a mask indoors.
    • Masks should be worn indoors in public in high transmission areas.
    • Masks that cover your nose and mouth are required to be worn on planes, busses, trains, and other public transportation when traveling into, within, or out of the United States.
  • Stay six feet away from others (social distancing) especially if you are at high risk.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Testing. There are several types of tests for you to use if you suspect you are sick. These include viral and antibody tests, conducted by others or by you in your home (self-tests). 
    • If you test positive, you should isolate. The CDC now recommends a five-day isolation period, followed by five days of mask-wearing when around others.

Local resources

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

 

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Beta website to order free COVID-19 tests is up and running