Americans will be able to request free rapid COVID-19 tests at home.

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source: washingtonpost.com

Americans will be able to request free rapid COVID-19 tests at home.

This is an attempt by the White House to deal with the lack of evidence and the increase in cases driven by the Omicron variant.

Starting next Wednesday, Americans will be able to request free COVID-19 tests at a new federal site, where the order will be processed and delivered to their home.

It is a new and ambitious attempt by the White House to address the shortage of tests across the country. However, the offer will be limited: each household will be able to request up to four tests for free.

The COVIDTest.gov page will provide the rapid tests at no cost starting Jan. 19 and will also list the price of shipping, the Joe Bien administration announced Friday.

The government faced criticism for low supply and long lines for tests amid a rise in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant. Biden announced last month that he would buy 500 million home tests, which were later duplicated to 1 billion tests.

"In addition to the 500 million tests we are acquiring, you have today instructed your team to acquire an additional 500 million tests to meet future demand," a White House official said Thursday.

However, the decision likely won't radically change the testing shortage situation, and Americans will need to plan for their applications.

The White House said that "the tests will be sent between 7 and 12 days after they are requested" through the Postal Service, which averages between 1 and 3 days of delay for its first-class shipments in the national territory.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) recommends home testing if you experience symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms, and muscle aches, five days after of possible exposure to the disease, or to comply with protocols for staying in schools and workplaces.

"Certainly, if you are going to meet with the family, or if you are going to participate in a meeting where there are immunocompromised or elderly or people who may not be vaccinated or poorly protected, it could be an opportunity to do the test at home," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said Wednesday.

Officials stressed that the federal website is just one way people can get free COVID-19 tests. Starting Saturday, private health companies will be required to cover the cost of rapid at-home tests, allowing Americans to receive reimbursement for tests they buy at pharmacies and online retailers. That covers up to eight tests per month.

The White House added that the four-test limit on website orders would apply to each residential address and the first tranche of 500 million tests. It estimates the cost of purchasing and distributing the first test block to be $4 billion.

Biden administration officials told local media they are aware that any website launch carries some risks — and memories of Healthcare.gov's disastrous Obama administration launch are still fresh — but said they think they're fine. Positioned to handle the expected demand for testing.