Orders now being accepted online for free COVID-19 home tests

Example of a home test kit. [courtesy USPS]

A federal website where Americans can order four free COVID-19 tests to be delivered to your home has launched one day early.

The White House announced on Friday that covidtests.gov would be available on Wednesday, but it has already started taking orders.

The site redirects users to a special U.S. Postal Service webpage, where you can fill out a short form to get the free tests. There is a limit of only one order of four per household.

The tests are scheduled to start shipping in late January, within 7 to 12 days after they are ordered, and then take 1 to 3 days to arrive via USPS.

The tests being made available for order are rapid antigen at-home tests, not PCR, can be taken anywhere.

They give results within 30 minutes (no lab drop-off required), work whether or not you have COVID-⁠19 symptoms, work whether or not you are up to date on your COVID-⁠19 vaccines, and are also referred to as “self-tests” or “over-the-counter tests”

If you need a COVID-⁠19 test now, are looking for another type of COVID-⁠19 test, or need more than four tests, coivdtests.gov recommends the following:

  • At-⁠home tests are available for sale at local retailers and pharmacies where available.
  • Your health insurance company will pay you back for 8 at-⁠home tests per month for each person on the plan.
  • No-cost antigen and PCR COVID-⁠19 tests are available to everyone in the U.S., including the uninsured, at more than 20,000 sites nationwide.

Getting tested is recommended by the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention if you begin having COVID-⁠19 symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell, or at least 5 days after you come into close contact with someone with COVID-⁠19.

They are also recommended for when you’re going to gather with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be up to date on their COVID-⁠19 vaccines.