Website to order free at-home COVID tests up and running

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Free at-home COVID-19 tests can now be requested by visiting COVIDtests.gov. Contributed photo

The government website to request free at-home COVID-19 tests went live Tuesday.

Tests will be mailed to those who request them beginning in late January, according to the website COVIDtests.gov. There are enough tests on hand for every residential address in the country, according to the website.

The site was up and running Tuesday, a day earlier than the official launch Wednesday, to make sure it is running properly, according to the website.

“Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-home COVID-19 tests,” according to the website. “The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.”

Tests can be ordered by visiting COVIDtests.gov. No credit card information is required and there is no cost for the test or for shipping and handling fees.

The offer for free tests is part of the government’s continuing efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus by making it easier for individuals to identify if they have the infection, and if they do, to quarantine to avoid transmitting the virus to others.

The at-home tests being mailed to individuals who request them are rapid antigen tests that yield results in minutes and do not have to be sent to a laboratory.

“Self-tests are rapid tests that can be taken at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “COVID-19 self-tests are one of the many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, masking and physical distancing, that protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.”

Results of the at-home tests are available within 30 minutes and work whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, according to COVIDtests.gov.

The website recommends individuals take an at-home test if they have symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, sore throat, runny nose or loss of taste or smell. A test should be conducted at least five days after coming into close contact with someone who has the virus, or before gathering with a group of people — especially those at risk of severe disease or who may not be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccine, according to the website.

Those who test positive for the virus should isolate at home for at least five days and wear a well-fitted mask if they must be around others in the home, whether or not they have symptoms of the virus, according to CDC guidance. Isolation can be concluded for those who experienced symptoms after five days if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms are improving. If you did not experience symptoms, you can end isolation after at least five full days. Those who were severely ill with COVID should isolate for at least 10 days and consult their doctor before ending isolation.

For more information on isolation and quarantine requirements, visit cdc.gov.

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