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Free at-home COVID tests: Website to start accepting orders Jan. 19

Americans will be able to order free COVID-19 tests from the comfort of their home next week.

The Biden administration has pledged to provide 1 billion COVID-19 test kits to American households at no cost. To facilitate those orders, the White House has launched the website covidtests.gov, which will begin taking orders on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

"This program will ensure that Americans have at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests available in the weeks and months ahead—in addition to the number of other ways they can get tested," the White House said in a fact sheet.

As the omicron variant drove virus cases higher last month, Biden faced immense criticism for neglecting to secure enough tests ahead of time.

Testing sites saw lines that rivaled the peaks of previous surges and many retailers began limiting the number of at-home tests customers could buy.

As a remedy, the White House partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to make rapid test kits more available and accessible

Daily Life In Edmonton During The Covid-19 Pandemic

A woman takes a swab as part of the COVID-19 antigen rapid test. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)On Monday, January 3, 2021, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

"To help ensure Americans have tests on hand if a need arises, the Biden Administration is purchasing one billion at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests to give to Americans for free," the White House said. "A half-billion tests will be available for order on January 19th and will be mailed directly to American households."

Test kits ordered on launch day should begin arriving by the end of the month. Officials expect the kits to ship within 7 - 12 days of ordering.

Many Americans live without reliable access to the internet. But administrators have included a call line that will allow those without internet access to place order by phone.

The program aims to ensure broad access by capping the number of test kits sent to each residential address at four. It will also prioritize orders from households experiencing the highest social vulnerability and communities that have experienced a disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

This story was reported from Atlanta.