The White House will launch its new website for ordering free at-home COVID-19 tests on Jan. 19. People will be able to order up to four tests per household on the new site — COVIDtests.gov — using just their name and address, and the White House anticipates shipments will go out within seven to 12 days.
The United States Postal Service is leading both the distribution of the tests and the development of the website, a senior administration official told reporters Friday. The official noted that the Postal Service already has a website where it sells goods online. "We're taking our website launch very seriously," the official said. "We didn't start from scratch."
The United States Digital Service, which grew out of the effort to rescue healthcare.gov, is also assisting with the launch. "We have the best tech teams across our administration working hard to make this a success, and we think we're well positioned to do that," the official said.
In an interview with Protocol this week, USDS administrator Mina Hsiang said the launch of this site is "not a highly complicated, undoable thing," given the Postal Service's experience selling things online. But, she said, "We're supporting them in their work there as they need it."
Of course, the scramble for free COVID-19 tests is likely to be a bit more intense than the demand for mail-truck Christmas ornaments. The COVIDtests.gov site is currently slated to distribute some 500 million at-home COVID-19 tests, which the White House recently committed to procure. The senior administration official said Friday that 420 million tests are already under contract and that "tens of millions" are currently in hand. The Biden administration also said this week it would procure an additional 500 million tests, bringing the total number of free tests up to 1 billion. "This new program is just one of the many ways we're ensuring access to free testing," a senior administration official told reporters Friday.
Starting Saturday, insurance companies will also reimburse people for up to eight tests a month.