You can get a free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 test starting Wednesday; here’s how you do it

Starting Wednesday, the federal government will be sending out COVID-19 tests to any American household that wants one.

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The plan, announced by the White House last week, will send some 500 million at-home COVID-19 test kits to Americans for free.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the website COVIDtests.gov is in the “beta phase right now,” and that the administration “can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two, but the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success.”

Here, from the COVIDtests.gov website, is what you should know about the program:

How can I order tests and when will the website be up and running?

The website -- https://special.usps.com/testkits -- has launched, and tests can be ordered online now. Tests will usually ship within 7-12 days of ordering.

No identification, credit card or health insurance information is required; you just need to include your name and a street address.

If you want to track your request for the tests, you can add an email address to get updates on your tests.

How many tests can I order?

You may order four tests per address. According to the website, if you have a larger family, you can get tested at numerous testing sites around the country and those tests are free.

If you have health insurance, your insurance will cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home tests, available at places such as drugstores, Walmart and Target stores, for up to eight at-home tests per month for each person on your plan.

Can I choose what type or brand of test I get?

You cannot choose a brand, but all the tests to be distributed are FDA-authorized at-home rapid antigen tests.

When will I get my tests and how will they be delivered?

These tests will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service to your mailbox. Tests will typically ship within seven to 12 days of ordering.

All orders within the continental United States will be sent through first-class package service. Shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. territories and overseas military and diplomatic addresses (APO/FPO/DPO) will be sent through priority mail.

Will I be able to track my order status?

Yes. There is an option for you to provide an email address to receive email notifications with shipping updates.

Once your order is shipped, you will receive an email with an estimated delivery date and a tracking number. You can track the status of your delivery on USPS.com.

Can I pick up my tests somewhere or have them held at my local post office instead of getting them shipped to my home?

You cannot pick up the tests, they will only be delivered through the mail.

Will my tests come with instructions on how to use them?

Yes. Tests will have instructions on how to use them.

When should I use my tests?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you take an at-home test:

· If you begin having COVID-19 symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, or loss of taste or smell;

· At least five days after you come into close contact with someone with COVID-19;

· When you’re going to gather with a group of people, especially those who are at risk of severe disease or may not be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines.

For more on when to use at-home tests, see the latest CDC self-testing guidance.