Free COVID-19 tests can be ordered online, starting Jan. 19

Published 11:19 am Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Americans can request up to four free COVID-19 tests per residential address starting Wednesday, Jan. 19, as a federal website opens to help meet the need for testing.

The website www.covidtests.gov will provide tests at no cost, including no shipping fee. The plan is to have more than 1 billion tests available through the website.

The tests typically ship within seven to 12 days of ordering. It will then take another one to three days to ship the tests through the U.S. Postal Service.

Due to the delay between ordering and shipping, it is recommended to purchase the tests for a future need. If a test is ordered as soon as symptoms become present, it will not arrive in time to be of much use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at-home testing when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. These symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms and muscle aches.

The CDC also recommends that the tests should be used five days after a potential COVID-19 exposure, or as part of school and workplace policies that require regular testing.

“Certainly if you’re going to gather with family, if you’re going to a gathering where people are immuno-compromised or where they’re elderly or where you have people who might be unvaccinated or poorly protected from a vaccine, that might be an opportunity you want to test,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, earlier this month.

Private insurance companies are now also required to cover the cost of at-home rapid tests, allowing Americans to be reimbursed for tests they purchase at pharmacies and other retailers. This reimbursement is applicable to up to eight tests per month.