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The Postal Service is now taking orders for free COVID-19 test kits

The U.S. Postal Service is now taking orders for the government's free at-home coronavirus test kits.
Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography/Getty Images
The U.S. Postal Service is now taking orders for the government's free at-home coronavirus test kits.

The U.S. Postal Service has begun taking orders for free at-home coronavirus test kits.

The website COVIDtests.gov was originally slated to begin taking orders on Wednesday. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the site is in the "beta testing" stage and "will be launched formally tomorrow morning [Wednesday]."

Each household order will contain four rapid tests, which the Postal Service says will be shipped for free "in late January."

The White House says it will prioritize shipments to Americans from ZIP codes that have experienced high rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths, with the first 20% of each day's orders going to those areas.

There will also be a phone number so those without access to computers or high-speed internet can place orders.

Some 700,000 people were on the test kit website at one point Tuesday afternoon. (Click here to see how many users are on the site.)

Some on Twitter reported problems with orders from residents of apartment buildings with multiple units being told that someone from that household had already ordered the tests. According to the Associated Press:

There were isolated reports Tuesday afternoon of issues relating to the website's address verification tool erroneously enforcing the four-per-household cap on apartment buildings and other multi-unit dwellings, but it was not immediately clear how widespread the issue was.

President Biden last week announced that the administration plans to buy 1 billion at-home tests for Americans and also said the White House will make high-quality masks available for free, with details coming out this week.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: January 18, 2022 at 12:00 AM EST
This story has been updated to make clear that each U.S. household can order four at-home tests.
NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.