The Biden Administration hosted a press call on the rollout of 500 million free tests being sent to American homes on Friday.
Senior administration officials told reporters testing is a “critical tool” to mitigate the spread of COVID. And, they added, public health experts and the CDC agree Americans should consider using at-home rapid tests if they begin to have symptoms, it’s been at least five days after close contact with someone who has COVID and someone is gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or unvaccinated.
At-home rapid tests are available at pharmacies and online retailers. And, according to the senior administration official, health insurance will cover the cost of the tests beginning Saturday, Jan. 15.
“This historic plan builds on significant, aggressive action the Biden Administration has taken from the start to expand testing capacity,” a senior administration official said.
Another senior administration official said Biden is committed to purchasing 1 billion at-home rapid tests to be given to the American people for free.
The administration is completing a contracting process for the purchase of 500 million at-home rapid tests. More than 420 million tests are already under contract.
All of the tests contracted through this program are rapid at-home tests that have been granted an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.
Half a billion tests will be available for order on Jan. 19, according to senior administration officials. They’ll be mailed directly to American households that order them.
Beginning Jan. 19, Americans can visit COVIDTests.gov and begin to order their tests.
“The program will limit the number of tests sent to each residential address to four tests,” the official said. “There will be tests for every household that wants to order them. Tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering.”
The administration noted equity is a “top priority” as it has been throughout all of its COVID programs.
“We’re taking a number of steps to ensure this program reaches our hardest-hit and highest-risk communities,” they said. “This includes working with national and local organizations with deep experience serving communities of color, people with disabilities and other high-risk communities to serve as navigators who will raise awareness about this program and help people submit their requests for tests.”
There are “tens of millions” of tests already on hand ready to send day one, according to a senior administration official.
“We’re confident we can meet the timelines that we outlined today on both ordering and shipping,” they added.
The program is intended to provide Americans at-home rapid tests to be on hand in the weeks and months ahead, a senior administration official said. This program, they added, is just one part of a broader set of programs.
Officials also expressed confidence that the website will not crash due to high-demand when launched.
“Every website launch comes with some risk,” they said. “We’re quite cognizant of that. But we have the best tech teams across, you know, our administration, across USPS who have been working hard to make this a success. We think we’re well-positioned to do that.”
Administration officials said they anticipate the cost for 500 million tests being $4 billion — including the purchase and distribution.