PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Residents of apartments or multi-family homes have been writing in to 12 Responds claiming they can’t order the free, at-home COVID-19 tests the federal government is offering.
The website, COVIDTests.gov, which quietly launched a day early on Tuesday, allows people to order four at-home tests per household, regardless of citizenship status, and have them delivered by mail.
However, some people who live with a roommate, or who live in a building with multiple units, have found they can’t order tests for themselves if someone with their address already has.
Kate Leavenworth tells 12 News she likes to have at-home rapid COVID tests on hand for a few reasons.
“It’s important for me because my parents live in Connecticut, so I try to go home as frequently as I can, and I don’t feel comfortable going home without having a test,” Leavenworth said.
Like many Americans, Leavenworth tried to order free at-home tests this week, only to find out her roommate had beat her to it, meaning she couldn’t order tests for herself.
“I got a message that said, that COVID tests had already been ordered to that address, even though there are six apartments in my building,” Leavenworth said.
“Obviously we all need access to the tests, so it was just very frustrating,” she added.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the soft launch of the website Tuesday, saying there was no guarantee there wouldn’t be “a bug or two.”
“But the best tech teams across the administration and the postal service are working hard to make this a success,” Psaki said.
A spokesperson for the United State Postal Service, which is handling the deliveries, tells 12 News “the Postal Service is seeing very limited cases of addresses that are not registered as multi-unit buildings which could lead to COVID test kit ordering difficulties. This is occurring in a small percentage of orders.”
USPS recommends the following:
- Filing a service request online at https://emailus.Usps.Com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry
- Contacting the help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS
There are also other avenues people can take to get free COVID tests, like checking in with your city or town about distribution at local community centers or clinics.
As of Saturday, private health insurers are also required to reimburse the cost of at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. Every insurer is different, so check your policy to see where you can get the tests for free over the counter, and how to submit a claim if needed.
The White House also announced Wednesday it will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free at pharmacies and community health centers.
A spokesperson for Stop & Shop tells 12 News the chain anticipates having free N95 masks available at all its store locations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Quantities will be very limited and will be available on a first come, first serve basis, according to the spokesperson, who says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention anticipates the masks will arrive later this month.