Speed Reads

'beta phase'

Free COVID-19 tests now available on government website prior to official launch

Orders for free COVID-19 tests from a government website can now be placed, one day before it officially launches.

On Tuesday, the government website COVIDtests.gov allowed users to order free at-home tests after entering their name and shipping address. This was one day earlier than expected, as the White House said last week the website would begin taking orders on Jan. 19. 

The website was quickly flooded with traffic, with Politico reporter David Lim noting it soon made up over half of the traffic on all government websites. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday the website was currently in its "beta phase" and "in the early stages of being rolled out," adding that it would "officially" launch on Wednesday morning.  

The administration website offers four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household, and it says the orders will "usually ship in 7-12 days." The White House also previously announced that a call line would be set up for those who can't access the website. The website launch comes after President Biden recently ordered an additional 500 million COVID-19 tests. 

"Every website launch, in our view, comes with risk," Psaki said. "We can't guarantee there won't be a bug or two, but the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success."