WH COVID testing website launches January 19 – but you can wait weeks to order


WASHINGTON — Want a free rapid COVID-19 test from the federal government? So hurry up and wait.

The White House announced on Friday that its website for Americans to request the coveted tests will go live on January 19 – before acknowledging that orders will “usually” ship 7 to 12 days after they are placed.

This delay, followed by additional days to deliver packages, means that people requesting tests (up to four per address) will have to submit their orders before they experience symptoms. It’s also conceivable that Americans could go through a full viral cycle in the time it takes to order and receive a test.

Additionally, it’s unclear whether the first kits will arrive before Omicron cases begin to drop significantly across the country.

The launch of COVIDTests.gov will be closely watched by President Biden’s critics, who have blamed him for rejecting a proposal from experts to distribute free tests en masse to households before Christmas to avert a winter surge of infections. .

President Biden’s administration has announced that its website for ordering the COVID-19 home test will go live next week, though it can take nearly two weeks for the tests to ship after an order is placed.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A failed website rollout or subsequent distribution issues could severely damage Biden’s already-damaged credibility in handling the pandemic.

Another high-profile website rollout, the Obama-Biden administration’s Healthcare.gov, turned into a technical and public relations fiasco in 2013 despite massive investments of time and money in its creation.

The launch of COVIDTests.gov comes four weeks and two days after the White House first briefed reporters on the plan on Dec. 20, and it will happen the same day Biden holds his second solo press conference at the White House.

The US Postal Service will manage packaging and delivery logistics for the mass distribution campaign. Biden said earlier this week he would scale the initiative from 500 million to 1 billion tests.

A woman squeezing the fluid sample onto a test strip while taking a rapid Covid-19 self-test at home.
It’s unclear whether free COVID-19 tests will reach Americans before Omicron cases begin to decline.
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Retailers such as CVS Pharmacy remain out of stock of test kits in some locations and massive lines continue to be seen at official testing sites, forcing FEMA to open federally run testing sites in the hard-hit areas two years after the start of the pandemic.

Some major cities on the East Coast, including Boston, Washington, New York and Philadelphia, are reporting slight declines in new infections. Officials say this could hint that Omicron cases are set to drop rapidly, as seen in other countries like South Africa.

Biden embraced the idea of ​​mass-distributing the rapid tests late last month as the milder but more contagious variant of Omicron caused an increase in coronavirus infections due to a large number of breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated people.

The White House reportedly rejected an expert plan in October that would have implemented the distribution plan before the fall and winter surge of cases hit.

Follow the latest news on the Omicron variant with live coverage from the New York Post

Experts from Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, the COVID Collaboration and other groups presented a 10-page plan to White House officials on Oct. 22 that called for “every American household will receive free holiday/New Year rapid tests,” Vanity Fair reported.

COVID-19 Rapid Home Test Kits
The White House did not act on a proposal to distribute free tests to households on a massive scale before Christmas to avoid a winter surge in cases.
SOPA/LightRocket images via Gett

Biden has denied having floated the idea – although he didn’t embrace it when it was originally proposed.

“We didn’t reject it,” Biden told The Post on the White House lawn last month. A White House official later argued that Biden was telling the truth and that “the characterization of ‘rejection’ does not accurately reflect a productive meeting, and in fact we are implementing many measures that were discussed because the capacity now allows us to do .”

Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the Biden administration has only contracted $50 million so far. test kits out of the 500 million initially announced.

Republicans and Democrats have criticized the Biden administration for not doing more to keep rapid test production capacity high. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) noted that companies like Abbott Labs, which has two manufacturing plants in its home state, laid off hundreds of workers in the summer of 2021 in response to falling demand. .

“The money was there. The manufacturers were ready. The employees were there. The production lines were sped up and the administration made a critical mistake by drastically reducing, in the midst of the pandemic, the number of tests it ordered,” Collins told WGME on Friday. “I just don’t understand it.”

Meanwhile, five Senate Democrats this week called White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients to explain “why the administration didn’t take bigger steps sooner to increase the access to home testing”.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listens to US President Joe Biden's remarks on the administration's response to rising COVID-19 cases across the country from the South Court Auditorium in the Executive Office Building of Eisenhower on January 13, 2022
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin listens as President Biden remarks on the administration’s response to rising COVID-19 cases across the country on January 13, 2022.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Biden moved quickly to resolve testing issues with the Omicron variant. From Saturday, health insurance companies are required to reimburse policyholders for up to eight rapid tests per month.

Studies indicate that symptoms of Omicron are less severe, especially in vaccinated people who receive a “booster” shot, but the large number of new cases is still driving up hospitalization rates across the country.

More than 149,000 hospital patients in the United States had COVID-19 as of Wednesday – up from the pre-Omicron US record of 133,000 in January 2021.

More than 1.35 million U.S. residents tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, CDC data shows — more than four times last winter’s peak of 294,000 cases on Jan. 8, 2021. The charge is thought to be actual labor is much higher because many people are asymptomatic or do not report test results at home.


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