By JEANNE PINDER and VIRGINIA JEFFRIES
When the Biden administration announced that it planned to send Covid at-home tests to anyone in the United States, it seemed clear that the ordering and delivery process would be a mess — like much of the rest of the official response.
The surprising thing was that when the United States Postal Service site opened on Tuesday, it succeeded for a lot of people. But it also failed for many.
The links: (https://www.covidtests.gov). You can also order from USPS https://special.usps.com/testkits
On a Facebook group, several people had a version of this man’s experience: “Took me seconds to order them. Did it midday yesterday.”
CNBC reported on Tuesday: “White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the website, covidtests.gov, is in its testing phase and will officially launch Wednesday morning. Orders placed during the website’s testing phase Tuesday are valid and will be shipped, White House spokesman Kevin Munoz told CNBC. … The Postal Service will ship the tests 7 to 12 days after orders are placed, according to the Biden administration. The website on Tuesday said orders would start shipping at the end of the month.’
Others reported problems with apartment numbers: If Apartment B ordered, Apartment A could not.
In some cases, people were able to order for different apartments in the same building. One woman suggested: “Did you enter a space after the number? For example, enter 13B instead of 13 B. 123 Anywhere Street, 13B, New York, NY XXXXX.
Apartment A54 or 54A?
One woman said “My mom kept saying apt A54. And they have it as 54A. “
Another said, “I tried to order for my mom. They are saying the address is wrong. Not sure what to do”
Multifamily homes seemed to be a problem. One woman wrote: “No matter how I wrote the address, I can’t order for my landlords because I placed my order already. Multifamily house. Sigh. I feel badly. I would have written my address differently had I known. Hope they fix this quickly.”
Netia McCray, a long Covid patient who has been monitoring the space, tweeted about the problem and offered a solution (see right).
Both McCray and the Twitter account @MarkedByCovid were collecting reports of bugs and fixes starting with the launch.
It’s four tests per household (address). If you use a different address, that location gets four, which came as a surprise to some users.
Dave Gentile, a public relations professional in New York City, learned after logging on that he would only be able to get four tests to share between himself, his partner and their roommate.
“I didn’t even think of that,” he said in a telephone interview. “So that’s one for each of us and then one extra.”
Gentile, 33, shares a small office with an immune-compromised co-worker. He told ClearHealthCosts that makes it critical for him and his colleagues to test multiple times a week so they can avoid inadvertently putting anyone in danger of infection.
“I basically test every day because I’m taking three subways to and from work and [the risk of] exposure is so high,” he said. “Having one free test for me is not something that’s going to help me very much.”
To some degree, it seems to be a function of how an address is listed in the government’s database.
“People experiencing problems should file a service request at emailus.usps.com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry or call the help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS,” the site said. If an address is not formally registered as a multi-unit building, this might be a solution.
There is a hotline to request test kits for those who do not have internet access.
Disability Access: 1-888-677-1199