The new website allowing Americans to order up to four COVID-19 testing kits directly from the federal government has gone live in beta form.
Since launching, COVIDtests.gov surged into the top spot as the most-used federal government website, according to Analytics.usa.gov, which measures visitor data for government sites and updates every five minutes. As of 3:18 p.m. EDT, the website had 559,978 viewers on the page.
White House officials on Friday said they expected the website, which has been developed in partnership with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), to go live on Jan. 19. The U.S. Digital Service was also called in to work on the website launch.
USPS’s own website also saw a surge in traffic with 31,151 visitors at 3:18 p.m. EDT.
As of midday Tuesday, the website was accepting contact information and shipping addresses from residential households for the free tests, which are being dispatched by USPS.
The new website is a cornerstone of the Biden administration’s commitment to buy 1 billion COVID-19 testing kits to give out to Americans for free. It is expecting to distribute $500 million of the tests through the site.
As a federal IT system containing personally identifiable information, such as addresses or healthcare details, the site is governed by the Privacy Act. In addition, because it collects data, it must be covered by a system of records notice.
“There will be free tests available for every household, and to promote broad access, the initial program will allow four free tests to be requested per residential address. Starting January 19th, Americans will be able to order their tests online at COVIDTests.gov, and tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering,” the White House said in a statement Friday.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify that COVIDtests.gov went live Tuesday for beta testing.