60 million U.S. households have ordered free Covid tests, White House says

Home test kits, specifically iHealth COVID-19 Antigen rapid self-tests, are stacked for delivery in Boston on Jan. 5, 2022.

Lane Turner | Boston Globe | Getty Images

The White House on Friday said 60 million households have ordered free at-home Covid tests through the government’s new website.

“Already tens of millions of tests have gone out the door and households around the country are already receiving tests so that people have tests on on hand if need arises,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said aboard Air Force One on Friday.

Tens of millions of free highly protective N95 masks have also been shipped to locations across the country, Jean-Pierre said.

The Biden administration launched the website, covidtests.gov, last week. Every household, based on residential address, is limited to four tests. The White House has said the cap on the number of tests per household is intended to ensure broad access to the program.

The tests are expected to ship 7 to 12 days after a household places an order, according to the website.

When the website first launched, some people were blocked from ordering tests, particularly individuals living in apartment buildings. The Postal Service said the issue arose because some addresses were not listed as multi-unit buildings. Anyone experiencing issues should file a help request at emailus.usps.com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry or call the help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS, according to the Postal Service.

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The Biden administration launched the website in response to public outcry over the holidays after many people could not get tested before visiting family. As the omicron variant swept the country, demand suddenly surged, leaving shelves empty at many pharmacies around the country and causing hours-long lines at some testing sites.

The Biden administration is procuring a total of 1 billion at-home Covid tests to distribute to the public for free.

The administration is also making 400 million highly protective N95 masks available to the public for free. People can obtain the free masks at pharmacies and community health centers around the country. The program will be fully up and running by early February, according to the White House.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in recently updated guidance, said N95s are more effective at preventing transmission of the virus than cloth masks.

The CDC recommends that everyone 2 years or older wear a mask regardless of vaccination status in indoor public spaces. People are required by federal law to wear masks on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.