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The Government Is Giving Away 500 Million Free COVID Tests: How To Order Yours Online

SPY logo SPY 2 days ago Taylor Galla
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On Friday, January 14, the Biden administration announced that Americans will be able to order free rapid COVID-19 tests from a national website starting on Wednesday, January 19. A successful free test distribution program would fulfill a promise President Biden made before Christmas, when he said that his administration would purchase and make free 500 million rapid at-home coronavirus tests to Americans.

On Thursday, January 13, Biden announced his plans to purchase an additional 500 million tests, bringing the total number of tests available to 1 billion. The government has already successfully contracted for at least 420 million tests, and the White House confirmed this week that the first 500 million tests are available to order and ready to ship directly to American households starting on January 19.

According to the briefing released by the White House, “Testing is an important tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that Americans use at-home tests if they begin to have symptoms, at least five days after coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or are gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or unvaccinated.”

As the highly contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus spreads across the country, many Americans have struggled to access COVID testing. Many stores are sold out of rapid at-home tests, and some testing sites have struggled with long lines and delayed results.

The free COVID-19 test website won’t be operational until next week. To help make sure you’re ready to order your free rapid COVID-19 tests online, we’ve put together a quick resource guide based on the White House’s press briefing and website.


Where and When Can I Order My Free Rapid Tests?

The website set up by the federal government is, and will go live sometime next Wednesday, January 19. The Biden administration didn’t specify a time when the website would go live, but it’s happening on Wednesday, so we recommend checking intermittently throughout the day.


When Will the Tests Ship?

There will be a lag in shipping, unfortunately. The tests will ship 7-12 days after you order them. The U.S. Postal Service will be handling the shipping and delivery of the tests through first-class mail. In the meantime, you can purchase rapid COVID-19 tests online.


How Many Tests Will I Be Able to Order?

Every U.S. household will be able to order a maximum of four tests to be shipped to their address. If you live alone, that means you can order four tests for yourself. Please keep in mind that it’s a limit of four tests per household, not per person. The administration is also planning to launch a call line for those who can’t access the website to help them place orders.


What If I’ve Already Bought Tests, Can I Get Reimbursed?

The federal government has said that beginning on Saturday, January 15, people with private insurance can seek reimbursement for tests they’ve purchased themselves. Alongside this announcement, the Biden administration also announced an additional 10 million COVID-19 tests are being set aside for schools nationwide to use each month.

You can learn more about the testing program and other COVID-19-related initiatives coming from the federal government on the White House website.


Do I Need To Enter a Credit Card To Order My Tests?

According to the official White House COVID website, “The tests will be completely free — there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number.”


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