Online orders for free at-home COVID tests will begin January 19

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Friday launched a new website allowing Americans to request up to four free COVID-19 tests per household.

The administration is buying 1 billion rapid home COVID-19 tests, and Americans can start ordering the tests online Jan. 19 at COVIDtests.gov.

It’s part of the administration’s effort to curb the spike in the omicron coronavirus variant that has overwhelmed hospitals and schools.

The tests must be shipped via the U.S. Postal Service between seven and 12 days after they are ordered, senior administration officials said in a call with reporters.

“Testing is an essential tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” a senior administration official said.

The White House said the tests should be used by people who start showing symptoms of COVID-19; after being in close contact for five days with someone who has COVID-19; or if you gather indoors with someone who is at risk of serious illness or who is not vaccinated. Children 4 and under are not eligible for vaccines.

The initial 500 million tests are expected to cost $4 billion, a senior administration official said.

The Biden administration also announced that starting Monday, private insurers will cover the cost of up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests per person per month.

On Thursday, Biden said that in addition to free testing, Americans would also get free high quality masks.

The administration is also aiming to ensure that members of some communities hardest hit by COVID-19 will have a hotline they can access if they do not have internet access or have difficulty ordering tests online. The number to call for assistance is not yet available.

Officials also urged Americans to seek out free testing centers themselves. There are around 20,000 free test sites across the country.

Earlier this week, Governor Steve Sisolak announced that the state ordered nearly 600,000 home tests, which which should arrive towards the end of the month. Deliveries of these “will be made directly to community partners who will help ensure testing reaches Nevadans as quickly as possible,” according to the governor’s office.

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