That website, which can be accessed at covidtests.gov, is finally up and running. Although the release came a little later than expected, individuals can now order four at-home COVID-19 tests at absolutely no cost. The website says that orders will usually ship within 7 to 12 days.
Although the website does not officially launch until Wednesday, January 19, the website is currently up and running, and people are ordering. However, the website does warn that “Please check back tomorrow if you run into any unexpected issues.”
What Kind Of At-Home COVID-19 Tests Will Be Sent?
The website says that the tests that will be sent are rapid antigen at-home tests, not PCR tests. The tests can be taken anywhere and give results within 30 minutes, without needing to drop the results off at a lab. It says that the test will work whether you do or do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Your vaccination status is also irrelevant. These tests are also often referred to as self-tests or over-the-counter tests.
If an individual tests positive, then they are encouraged to self-isolate for at least five days, according to the latest CDC COVID-19 guidelines.
If an individual obtains a negative result, then it means that the COVID-19 was found in your system. If an individual feels that they do have COVID-19, they should wait at least 24 hours before testing again.
According to the CDC, “it is possible for a test to give a negative result in some people who have COVID-19. This is called a false negative. You could also test negative if the specimen was collected too early in your infection. In this case, you could test positive later during your illness.”
When Do I Take An At-Home Test?
The website encourages individuals to take an at-home test if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, such as a fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell.
They also encourage individuals to test at least five days after they come into contact who has recently tested positive for COVID-19.
They also suggest that people test themselves before they attend large gatherings, especially with those who may be elderly, immunocompromised, at risk for severe diseases, and who may not be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines.
What Information Does The Government Want From Me?
Once you access the website and select the blue button that says “Order Free At-Home Tests,” you will be presented with a USPS order form. Orders are limited to one order per residential address, which means that only one person per family can request the tests.
The first step asks for your contact information, including your first and last name. There is also a box to include an email address. This is an optional step that will provide you with shipping notifications if you choose to provide it.
After you enter your contact information, it asks you to fill out your name and address. It should be noted for those that are concerned about providing their private information that there is a privacy act statement at the bottom of the order form. The statement says that they will not disclose your information to third parties without your consent, except to act on your behalf or request, or as legally required.
After you have finished filling out your information, you just click a green “check out now” button to the right side of the form. From there, you are presented with an order form that contains an order number. The page says that if you provide your email address that they will send you an order confirmation email and delivery updates.
However, some people have reported that they have not received a confirmation email after placing their order. The website is still in beta mode, so there may be a delay in receiving your email. Take a screenshot of the page or write down your order number to confirm that your order has been placed.
And that’s all there is to it! The confirmation page states that COVID-19 tests will start shipping in late January and warns that USPS will only send one set of 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests to valid residential addresses.