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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

White House soft-launches COVID-19 test request website

by Zeke Miller and Matt O’Brien

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration on Tuesday launched its website for Americans to request free at-home COVID-19 tests, a day before they officially go online.

The website, COVIDTests.gov, now includes a link to “Every Household in America” ​​to access order forms run by the US Postal Service. People can order up to four at-home tests per residential address to be delivered by the Postal Service. It marks the latest move by President Joe Biden to address criticism of low inventories and long lines for testing during the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron version.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the website was in “beta testing” and working at “limited capacity” ahead of the official launch. The website will officially launch at midnight on Wednesday, Saki said.

There were separate reports on Tuesday afternoon of problems related to the website’s address verification tool, which was incorrectly applying the four-per-household limit on apartment buildings and other multi-unit dwellings. A spokesman for the Postal Service said in a statement that the error was occurring in “a small percentage of orders.” He added that any user who needs assistance can file a service request at emails.usps.com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry or contact the help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS Is.

On Tuesday, more than 750,000 people were using the website at the same time, according to public government tracking data, but it was not immediately known how many orders were placed.

Saki said the administration was anticipating a “bug or two,” but that IT experts from across the government were working to prepare the site.

Biden announced last month that the US would buy 500 million home tests to launch the program, and on Thursday the president announced he was doubling the order for 1 billion tests.

But Americans shouldn’t expect a rapid turnaround on orders and will have to plan ahead and request tests before they can meet federal guidelines for using the test.

The White House said that tests will “generally ship within 7-12 days of ordering” via the USPS, which reports shipping times of 1-3 days for its First Class package service in the continental United States. Is.

Officials stressed that the federal website is just one way for people to get a COVID-19 test, and a shortage of at-home testing kits has shown signs of easing as over-supply hit the market.

Starting Saturday, private insurers have been required to cover the cost of rapid testing at home, allowing Americans to be reimbursed for tests purchased at pharmacies and online retailers. This includes eight tests per month.

Alex Howard, director of Digital Democracy, said the technical bug that embarrassed President Barack Obama’s administration with the rollout of the HealthCare.gov website in 2013 shouldn’t be a problem for the COVID-19 test kit website because it’s so simple. Project, an open government monitoring group. Howard said the new website is even simpler than the Vaccines.gov website – to find nearby vaccine clinics and pharmacies – that was successfully launched last year by the Biden administration.

Howard said the act of requesting one’s address is straightforward, especially when compared with an Obama-era health insurance website that involves shopping for various health plans and authenticating a secure transaction. He added that the challenge of hosting website applications under high demand is also a “solving problem” in the private sector.

“My hope is US Digital Service and any vendor they work with will be able to pull this off,” he said. “That’s the least difficult part of it.”

Two tech companies that often work with the federal government — Microsoft and Accenture — sent questions about the website to the Postal Service on Tuesday. Amazon, a major cloud provider for US agencies, did not respond to requests for comment.

Howard said the hardest part of the project is not the website but the physical distribution of the kit.

“I can’t remember the last time the federal government sent everybody something that wasn’t a tax document,” he said.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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