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The White House conducted a soft launch of its website offering COVID-19 tests.

White House conducts soft launch of website offering free COVID-19 tests

Jan 14, 2022


Update (Jan. 18, 2022): A day before the website offering free at-home COVID-19 tests was set to officially go online, the White House conducted a soft launch of the site Tuesday. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the website was in “beta testing” and operating at a “limited capacity.”

According to public government tracking data, more than 750,000 people were simultaneously accessing the website at some points. It was not immediately known how many orders were placed.

There were isolated reports Tuesday afternoon of issues relating to the website’s address verification tool. The tool was reportedly enforcing the four-test-per-household limit on entire apartment buildings and other multi-unit dwellings. It was not immediately clear how widespread the issue was.

The website now includes a link for Americans to access an order form run by the U.S. Postal Service. USPS will be in charge of delivering the tests. The website will officially launch mid-morning Wednesday.

Original Story (Jan. 14, 2022): The White House announced Friday it would begin sending at-home rapid COVID-19 tests to households across the country starting next Wednesday. The tests will be available to order free of charge on the website

“To promote broad access, the initial program will allow four free tests to be requested per residential address,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the plan. “Tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering.”

President Joe Biden has been criticized for a lack of supply of tests, as well as long testing lines. In addition to the White House announcement that it will begin sending millions of COVID-19 tests each month to schools across the country earlier this week, President Biden said last month the U.S. would purchase 500 million at-home tests. On Thursday, he bumped that number up to 1 billion tests.

“We’ll continue to work with the retailers and online retailers to increase availability,” Biden said Thursday. In the fact sheet, the White House said the first 500 million tests will be available Wednesday. White House officials added the website will not be the only way to get a COVID-19 test.

“There are now over 20,000 free testing sites across the nation… as well as federal surge free testing sites, with more free testing sites opening each week,” the White House said. “Millions of free, at-home COVID-19 tests have been delivered to thousands of community health centers and rural health clinics to distribute to their patients, with more delivered each week.”

While the increase in available tests addresses a popular criticism of Biden’s COVID-19 response plan, White House Press Secretary noted “the most critical need right now is medical staffing for our hospitals” at her daily press briefing. At that briefing, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell announced Defense Department medical teams are being deployed to six states that are seeing hospitals under increased pressure due to COVID-19. Those states are:

  • Ohio
  • Michigan
  • Rhode Island
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico

“These teams are in addition to more than the more than thousand staff that are already deployed to 26 states, two territories, the District of Columbia and 24 tribal nations,” Criswell said at the briefing. “In the next several weeks, we are prepared to do more.”

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