The demand for at-home Covid-19 tests was very high during Christmas and Christmas Eve since there were long holidays and people were planning to gather. The demand for at-home tests led to stockpiling by the people and, subsequently, scarcity for the required people.
White House To Launch A Website For Free Covid-19 Test Distribution
The US administration provided an opportunity to access an order form to request free at-home Covid-19 tests. The order form will be available through a link provided in the newly launched website COVIDTests.gov which the US Postal service runs.
The link allows ordering 4 at-home tests against a particular postal address which the US Postal service will deliver through First-Class Package Service. Delivery to Alaska, Hawaii, and military addresses will be sent through Priority mail.
The move of launching the website by Joe Biden’s administration is to reply to the criticism of having scarcity of testing kits and when the number of infections was rising across the nation with the new variant Omicron.
The website has been kept in the testing stage by the White House by covering limited capacity to validate its effectiveness and correct the errors prior to the official launch, as stated by Jen Psaki, White Press Secretary.
The trial has shown an error in the website’s address verification tool when 4 sets of at-home tests were ordered from the same apartment building or multi-unit dwelling. The error popped up for small orders, which was resolved by creating an online service request helpdesk. On the first day, around 750000 Americans were using the website simultaneously as per data available from the public government tracking system. However, the total of orders for the at-home tests could not be ascertained.
White House is suspecting a bug in the software, which the IT experts will handle to resolve before the official launch.
Last month, Joe Biden’s government took the decision to freely distribute at-home tests to the people of America by procuring 500 million at-home tests which were later doubled to 1 billion tests. The contracting process for getting the 1 billion tests is underway.
White House urges people not to expect fast delivery of the orders as it requires federal guidelines for using the test. Moreover, the test will be delivered within 7-12 days from the date of ordering by the US Postal service. The White House emphasized that the website is one way to get the Covid-19 tests easily and adequately in the market.
Alex Howard, Director of Digital Democracy Project stated that the website has been made simple to identify nearby vaccine clinics and pharmacies.
The program of at-home tests also includes insurance coverage by private insurance companies and allows them to get reimbursed for the test that Americans procure from online retailers and pharmacies. Howard commented that the challenge in the project is mainly on the part of physical distribution of kits rather than the website since the postal service of several states is facing mail delays due to Omicron. The new variant of Covid-19 has made more than 19200 postal workers infected or quarantined, as per the American Postal Workers Union report.
The Postal Service has planned to speed up their activities of packing and delivering the test by setting up 43 new centers and hiring 7000 temporary workers.
The website recommends people to order the at-home tests only if anyone acquires symptoms of Covid-19, after 5 days of visit to a Covid-19 infected patient, or planning to gather with an unvaccinated group or people with a higher risk of getting infected.
Places like Washington DC have arranged at-home tests in local area libraries from people who can collect as required. Cities like Boston and New York are providing the at-home tests to local clinics for distribution.
An infectious disease expert, Dr. William Schaffner, recommends that people procure the tests before they need them because the optimal time may get over by the time at-home tests get delivered after they place an order.