President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday rolled out a website where people can order free COVID-19 tests.
The site enables Americans to order a set of four tests per residential address.
However, the tests won’t be shipped until “late January.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington that the site “is in beta phase right now.”
“Every website launch comes with risk. We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two. But the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working to make this a success,” she added.
The site, covidtest.gov, is scheduled to officially launch on Wednesday morning.
People who visit and click “order free at-home tests” are taken to a portal hosted by the U.S. Postal Service, which is being utilized because the service already had a site that sold items to consumers.
Tests will not ship quickly; according to the Biden administration, they’ll go out between seven and 12 days after somebody orders them. All orders will be sent through the Postal Service’s First Class Package Service, with shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. Territories and APO/FPO/DPO addresses sent through Priority Mail.
The tests are being purchased using taxpayer money.
Administration officials have stepped up efforts in recent weeks to deliver more tests to Americans. Another aspect of the effort was requiring private insurance companies to cover eight at-home COVID-19 tests per person every month.
Tests have been hard to come by in some parts of the United States following the emergence of the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
Omicron has sickened the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, stoking fresh concerns about transmission of the virus and leading to lengthy lines for tests in various areas before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Psaki on Tuesday confirmed that the Biden administration opted against sending tests to Americans in October after meeting with independent experts because “the market had not expanded enough to at that moment in time.”
She declined to say whether the president had been briefed on the meeting, which reportedly involved experts from Harvard University and the Rockefeller Foundation suggesting a mass distribution of tests before Christmas. Psaki also wouldn’t say whether Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, or Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were on the call.