The US government on Tuesday quietly launched a soft launch of its website where Americans can request a free rapid coronavirus test – a day before the scheduled rollout.
Covidtests.gov quickly became the most visited federal government website as millions of families began placing orders for test kits.
“COVIDtests.gov stands ready to help prepare for the full launch tomorrow. We have tests in place for every residential address in the US, please check again tomorrow to see if you run into any unforeseen problems,” said a notice at the top of the government website.
This reporter was able to complete the order within about a minute after clicking a link that connects to the US Postal Service form in mid-Tuesday.
Some occupants of apartments and other multi-unit dwellings, however, complained on social media that the website’s address verification tool was implementing a four-per-person household, allowing only one family to request tests per building. I was giving.
Carolyn Maloney, a member of Congress from New York State, tweeted advice on how apartment dwellers can avoid a mess.
“In our view, every website launch comes with risks,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a White House briefing on Tuesday. “We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two, but the best technical teams in the administration and postal service are working hard to make this a success.”
“We’re ready for that,” an administration official promised reporters last week, explaining that the four individual rapid antigen tests would be shipped via the postal service in seven to 12 days after a completed online order.
“The 650,000 women and men of the United States Postal Service are ready and proud to play a vital role in supporting the health needs of the American public,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement last week. “We are working closely with the administration and are ready to accept and distribute the test kits on the first day of the start of the program.”
President Joe Biden announced last week that the government would buy another 500 million at-home tests for the public, in addition to the order made last month for half a billion tests.
According to Jeffrey Miron, director of economic studies at the Cato Institute and economist at Harvard University, the Biden administration’s plan is a classic case of big government, which appears to be “needed” because it is difficult for private forces to address the problem.
Americans have the option of buying the test at pharmacies and other stores. New federal rules that went into effect Saturday required private medical insurers to cover the cost of those home tests, but insurers say reimbursement procedures will take weeks to resolve, adding another headache to the process. can.
“Had this federal intervention never been necessary, the private sector would have been free to develop, test, and sell test kits without intervention from the Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control,” Miron told VOA. “Rapid tests were widely available several months ago in other countries; So, the technology was clearly available.”
Given the current rules and regulations regarding private production and sale of test kits, however, “federal distribution is probably a useful step that will reduce the delays and barriers many people face in purchasing kits from private suppliers,” Miron said. said.
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