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Federal website for rapid tests goes live a day early

(Evelyn Hockstein/Illustration/Reuters)
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Some Americans were able to order free rapid coronavirus tests from a federal website beginning Tuesday, ahead of the site’s official launch Wednesday.

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The website,, was operating at limited capacity Tuesday to ensure a smooth launch Wednesday, a White House official said.

Facing huge demand for quick testing amid the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant, the government purchased 500 million rapid tests that will be available to every household and will limit the number of tests sent to each address to four tests.

Throughout the day, apartment-dwellers reported problems with ordering the kits. According to David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, “This is occurring in a small percentage of orders” among people whose addresses “are not registered as multi-unit buildings.”

“For assistance in the ordering process the USPS recommends filing a service request with USPS or contacting our help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS, to help address the issue,” Partenheimer said in a statement.

Here’s what to know

  • Pfizer on Tuesday said studies suggest that its pill to treat covid-19 is effective against the omicron variant, welcome news for doctors who see the therapy as a potential game-changer.
  • Top U.S. health officials are urging caution amid reports of coronavirus cases peaking in some areas and speculation that the omicron variant could end the pandemic.
  • Moderna hopes to introduce a booster shot by fall 2023 that will target both the coronavirus and the flu, according to its chief executive, Stéphane Bancel.
  • False negative results from rapid tests have sown confusion, frustration and heartache among some people, who fear that they may have infected others.