US residents can order free, at-home COVID-19 tests starting on January 19th

The White House has set up a website where you can request four tests per household.

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A hand holding a negative Covid-19 rapid test. The red line marking C. (Photo illustration by Achille Abboud/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty Images

One year, 10 months and eight days after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans will be able to order free, at-home tests from the government. Starting on January 19th, you'll be able to visit COVIDTests.gov and request tests, which will be mailed to your home.

For now, the website only has a landing page in English and Spanish. It notes that the shipping costs will be covered too.

The Biden administration is buying one billion at-home, rapid tests to give to US residents for free. The hope is to make sure everyone has a test on hand when they need it. The White House said 500 million of those tests will be available on January 19th. At the outset, you'll be able to order four per residential address.

A phone line is being set up so those who can't access the website can place an order. The administration says it's working with national and local organizations to help people in at-risk and hard-hit communities to secure tests.

One important thing to note: the tests will usually ship within 7-12 days of ordering. That timeline won't be incredibly useful for people who show symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with a positive case and don't have an at-home test handy. 

Still, it's worth stocking up on these free tests, especially given how in-demand they are. Even Twitter accounts known for helping people secure new gaming consoles are providing stock alerts for COVID-19 tests these days.

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