COVIDTests.gov is accepting orders for free rapid tests a day early

You can request four tests per household and the USPS will start deliveries later this month.

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Covid-19 rapid tests.A picture taken on January 12, 2022 shows Covid-19 (rapid antigen) self-tests in Rennes, western France. / AFP / Damien MEYER
AFP / Damien MEYER

Folks in the US can now order free, at-home COVID-19 tests from a United States Postal Service website, one day earlier than expected. Last week, the Biden administration said people would be able to place orders starting on Wednesday. At the time of the announcement, COVIDtests.gov was a placeholder site, but it now directs users to the USPS to place an order.

Households can each request one set of four rapid antigen tests. USPS will start shipping the kits later this month and usually within seven to 12 days of ordering. 

The administration says the site went live one day early as part of its beta phase, according to CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Officials are hoping to troubleshoot the site and ensure the official launch goes smoothly on Wednesday. Sure enough, at the time of writing, some people were having trouble loading the site, so you might not be able to place an order right away.

The COVIDtests.gov site provides some more information about the tests. You should see results within 30 minutes and can be taken anywhere. It provides guidance on when to take a test, as well as directions on what to do based on the results. The site also has resources about testing sites and insurance reimbursement for at-home tests.

The Biden administration said it was buying a billion rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests to distribute to Americans. Half of those are expected to be available for order this week. The White House said its goal was to make sure everyone has a test available when they need one, especially given that tests are in high demand and are often difficult to find in stores.

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