By Gloria Gomez/UA Don Bolles Fellow
PHOENIX — Arizonans can now receive free at-home COVID-19 tests alongside their online purchase packages, a day earlier than initially planned.
Each household can order up to four tests via the U.S. Postal Service website. Last week, the Biden Administration announced it was purchasing 1 billion tests, half of which would be available to order on Jan. 19. Currently, both the newly launched government website COVIDtests.gov and the USPS order form are up and running ahead of schedule. A banner at the top of the website notes that today is a test ahead of tomorrow’s official launch.
The tests are free, and ordering them requires only first and last name and mailing address, though people can choose to provide an email address to track the order. USPS expects shipping to begin in late January.
The rapid antigen at-home tests report results within 30 minutes. A 2021 study of at-home tests found an accuracy rate of 78.9% when identifying those who had contracted the virus within 0 to 12 days of exhibiting symptoms.
Internet traffic to the government and USPS websites are among the highest. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 500,000 visitors to COVIDtests.gov and the USPS site was second highest, with more than 300,000 visitors.
USPS is in the top three topics trending on Twitter. U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) tweeted out a reminder that testing is an important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Testing is key to help Arizonans stay safe at home, at school and at work,” he said.
Some people who live in apartments are reporting complications ordering tests. Netia McCray tweeted that if someone in an apartment building has already ordered tests, other residents of that same building are being blocked from ordering more on the site. She recommends that users input their apartment building information on the address line instead.
For those needing more immediate help, the Arizona Department of Health Services website offers a map of nearby testing locations.
The Biden Administration has promised to set up a free call line for those who are unable to access the internet, but has yet to release a phone number.
Gloria Gomez is a senior at the University of Arizona and the 2022 UA School of Journalism’s Don Bolles Fellow. Gomez has interned at the Arizona Daily Star and worked at the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She is a dual major in journalism and political science, with a Spanish minor. She’s a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors and National Association of Hispanic Journalists. The UA School of Journalism started the fellowship in 1977 to honor Don Bolles, an Arizona Republic reporter killed in a 1976 car bombing.