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You can now order free at-home COVID-19 test kits from the government

How to order free at-home COVID-19 tests, beginning next week

Youngstown City Health Department worker Faith Terreri grabs two at-home COVID-19 test kits.
Youngstown City Health Department worker Faith Terreri grabs two at-home COVID-19 test kits to be handed out during a distribution event, Dec. 30, 2021, in Youngstown, Ohio.
David Dermer, Associated Press

The Biden administration announced last week that Americans will have the chance to order free at-home COVID-19 tests starting Wednesday, Jan. 19. Well, the website went live one day early, meaning you can now order COVID-19 tests for free.

Where to order: Visit the U.S. Postal Service’s website to order free at-home COVID-19 testing kits.

Details: The Biden administration said it will add a new phone number for people without the internet to order the tests.

  • The tests will ship within seven to 12 days from the day you order.

The news: Families can order up to four at-home COVID-19 tests per household, according to the Biden administration.

What at-home tests do: The at-home COVID-19 tests can “look for antigens, or proteins, of the coronavirus and return results very quickly, typically within an hour and some within minutes,” according to ABC News.

  • “These are different from lab tests, known as PCR tests. They look for viral genetic material but can take up to three days to return results,” ABC News reports,

Between the lines: Because of the shipment time, most Americans won’t receive the tests until the end of January, NPR reports.

The other side: Beginning Saturday, Americans can get home COVID-19 tests for free through their private insurance, CNN reports. Once you obtain the tests at pharmacies or retailers, you can charge your insurance company for them and they will reimburse you.

The bigger picture: The Biden administration’s decision comes as the omicron variant continues to soar across the country. At-home tests allow people to test at home without trying to find an available test out in the world.