You can start ordering free COVID tests on Wednesday

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The White House said Friday that a new website, COVIDTests.gov, would begin accepting orders Jan. 19 for free rapid tests shipped to Americans’ homes.

Why is this important: The White House has stressed the importance of testing during the Omicron surge, with President Biden announcing plans Thursday for the government to have 1 billion tests.

Driving the news: Americans can order four tests per residential address starting Jan. 19 on the website.

  • Tests will ship within 7 to 12 days of ordering, senior administration officials said in a Friday press call, but that timeframe could be shortened as the program ramps up.
  • The U.S. Postal Service will package and deliver the tests, with orders within the continental United States being sent via first-class parcel service.
  • There will also be a hotline for Americans who don’t have internet access to order tests.
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What they say : “There are many ways to take tests, and this is just one more,” a senior administration official explained.

Rollback: The debacle surrounding the rollout of the HealthCare.gov website under the Obama administration looms over a new government website, but senior administration officials said they are confident the site will meet demand.

  • The US Digital Service, a group of government technologists, helped the Postal Service with the website.
  • “We didn’t start from scratch,” a senior administration official said, adding that the Postal Service already has a “website that sells goods to the public and has had for some time. Of course, every website launch presents certain risks, we are fully aware of this.”
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