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at home Covid test

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The Biden Administration made free, at-home COVID tests available for all U.S. residents via on Tuesday, Jan 18. Every U.S. household is eligible to order four free at-home COVID-⁠19 tests without charge. The site detailed that orders will usually ship in seven to 12 days. Additionally, as suggested, citizens should order tests and keep them at home as a precautionary measure, “so you have them when you need them.”

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki highlighted that citizens may experience some troubleshooting on the federal site, which USA Today claims is still in its beta phase.

“We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two,” Psaki noted, “but the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success.”

The tests provided by the site are rapid antigen tests, not PCR tests, and can be taken anywhere. They’ll provide results within 30 minutes and don’t have to be dropped off at a lab. The tests yield results regardless of whether one is showing and or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms — and whether or not one is up to date with their COVID-⁠19 vaccinations.

Other names for the rapid antigen tests provided include “self-tests” or “over-the-counter” (OTC) tests.

“At-home antigen tests like BinaxNow are roughly 85% accurate at detecting positive cases. That means at-home tests miss roughly 15% of positive cases,” according to CNBC.

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Regarding when to take an antigen test, the government’s new website advises taking one if you’ve been having COVID-⁠19 symptoms, at least five days after you come into close contact with someone with COVID-⁠19, or when you’re going to gather with a group of people.

If you test positive, the chances are you have COVID. It’ll be important to follow the CDC’s most updated rules for isolating.

The site’s launch comes as the nation works its way through the record-breaking surge of infections from COVID’s Omicron variant. Read more below.

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