The United States Postal Service and United States Digital Service have been working on a new website for Americans to order free, at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. The administration is confident it won't crash in meeting massive demand.
The White House is standing up a new website for Americans to order free at-home COVID-19 tests as part of an effort first announced last month to expand access to testing across the country.
The new website will go live with capabilities for Americans to order up to four free, at-home rapid tests per residential address on Jan. 19.
When asked about the new website (COVIDtests.gov) during a White House call with reporters on Friday, a senior administration official said that the administration is "ready for this and we're ready for America to start ordering their tests on January 19."
The U.S. Digital Service and the Postal Service are pitching in on the effort.
"We didn't start from scratch," the official said. "The Postal Service is an important partner here. They already have a website that does sell to the public and has for quite some time." Additionally, USDS has been "supporting the USPS in helping, partnering to ensure that we're ready for a successful launch at this critical moment," the official said.
When asked about the White House's confidence that the website would withstand demand, the senior administration official said "we are taking the website launch very seriously."
The administration is purchasing one billion at-home rapid tests, and will distribute these via the new website. The first 500 million tests will be available starting Jan. 19. This testing push is on top of other efforts to require private health insurance companies to cover the cost of eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month, per person.
To order the tests, citizens will have to provide their name and residential mailing address on the new website. There will also be an option to add an email address for order status updates. The administration is estimating that tests, which will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service through first class package service, should ship within 7 to 12 days of being ordered.
The White House says that there will also be a free call line for people without web access to call to order tests, and a fact sheet on the new efforts say that the administration will prioritize processing orders to households "experiencing the highest social vulnerability and in communities that have experienced a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths and cases."
"Of course every website launch poses some risk. We're quite cognizant of that, but we have the best tech teams across our administration, across USPS have been working hard to make this a success and we think we're well positioned to do that," the official said.