At-home testing for COVID-19 is an essential tool that can help mitigate the spread of the virus. The US government launched a new website last Tuesday, January 18, allowing households to order up to four free at-home coronavirus tests.
Type of At-Home COVID-19 Tests
In December, the Biden administration announced the purchase of one billion at-home, rapid COVID tests to help combat surging Omicron cases. In response to a public outcry over a shortage of tests during the holiday season, the administration later announced that up to four of these tests could be ordered at zero cost for American households through the new website www.covidtests.gov. For now, only one kit of four tests is allowed per household. These particular tests are rapid antigen tests (detect specific proteins on the surface of the coronavirus) that provide results in as little as 30-minutes without any lab drop-off. They are expected to produce accurate results with or without COVID-19 symptoms, which is helpful to confirm/rule out infection for asymptomatic contact tracing.
If an individual tests positive with an antigen test, it is generally safe to assume that the result is accurate, and the patient is infected. However, there is a higher chance of false negatives with antigen tests, which means a negative result cannot definitively rule out an active infection.
How to Order
To submit an order for your free at-home tests, you will only need to provide a name and mailing address. Delivery is expected to take between 7-12 days from order, and test kits will be shipped via USPS First Class Mail. The White House says it will prioritize shipments to Americans from ZIP codes that have experienced high rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and the first 20% of each day’s orders going to those areas.
It didn’t take long before the website saw some significant glitches. For example, individuals living in apartment buildings said the website blocked them from ordering tests if other tenants had already requested kits within the same building. Others who use PO boxes for their primary mailing address reported confusion in ordering due to a disclaimer on the site that orders ship only to valid residential addresses. However, these issues appeared to be isolated, and the White House has indicated that it is working hard to make the launch a success. If you have problems ordering your free tests, you can file a service request here or call 1-800-ASK-USPS.
VIGILINT recommends that families consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as the best safeguard against the disease and as an effort to help contain the disease in the community at large. Because of the surging case numbers, VIGILINT also recommends that families take advantage of the free resources available through covidtests.gov by ordering their four free at-home, rapid tests.
If you or your traveling companion wind up in a medical emergency situation anywhere in the world, VIGILINT offers a comprehensive Global MedAssist Program (GMAP), including medical evacuation to your hospital of choice, access to our 24/7 Medical Operations Center, and our board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician team. Contact VIGILINT for more information: 1 (919) 914-0900.