Governments home test kit ordering website encounters early problems


INDIANAPOLIS — The federal government’s website, covidtests.gov, officially went live today — but not without a few hiccups.

For the first time ever, Americans across the country can log into a government website and order free at-home COVID-19 tests. The site allows each household to order four rapid tests to be shipped by the US Postal Service within 7 to 12 days of ordering.

However, despite silently launching the website at a limited capacity Tuesday during “beta testing,” Hoosiers still reported encountering issues Wednesday during the official launch.

“I immediately tried ordering for my family, which was easy,” Becky Culp of Zionsville said. “And then I have three kids who live in college towns and I’ve had different experiences with them.”

Culp said she tried to submit an order for her daughter who lives in college housing at Indiana University. She said she entered her daughter’s specific room number but still received an error message.

“[The website] indicates that a test has already been ordered for this address. So I was rejected,” Culp said.

David Williams, a longtime resident of the FairBridge Inn in the south end of town, said he had the same error. He said he had lived at the hotel for two and a half years and had never had a problem getting mail sent to his address.

“I’m with the public all the time and you never know when I might get in touch [with COVID-19]”, Williams said. “I just wanted to have [the tests] being on the safe side so I don’t always have to run somewhere else and I can just test myself.

Reports of issues with the website’s address verification tool began on Tuesday afternoon. A U.S. Postal Service spokesperson said in a statement that the error “occurs in a small percentage of orders.”

“These need to be dealt with and those [congregate settings] are probably the most risky places,” Culp said.

“The good news is one – the White House is aware of that,” said Thomas Duszynski, director of education in epidemiology at IUPUI’s Richard M Fairbanks School of Public Health.

Duszynski said the problem is likely a computer error and a “short hiccup in the system that will be fixed in the next few days.” That’s why he suggests that Hoosiers return frequently.

“This is one of the most user-friendly federal government websites I have ever seen. So it only takes a few minutes if that,” Duszynski said. “Watch for an announcement that this has been fixed, then log back in and order your tests.”

“The biggest piece of advice is just to be patient and not jump to a decision because there’s a lot of new information out there,” said Jennifer Adamany, director of communications for the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana.

Adamany said scammers like to take advantage of confusing situations and current events to prey on unsuspecting individuals.

“I wouldn’t just buy everything you see online. First, you want to make sure that if you’re buying a home or over-the-counter kit, that it’s FDA cleared,” Adamany said. “Scammers will seek to take advantage of confusing you.

The Central Indiana BBB has provided the following ways to avoid scammers:

  • Visit the US Health and Human Services website (https://www.hhs.gov) to find a valid testing site or the Indiana State Department of Health
  • If personal data such as date of birth, social security, financial information or other private information was shared when registering to get tested and no results were returned as promised – and you suspect fraud, report it to identitytheft.gov
  • Before visiting a test center or ordering a test kit online, check the company name on BBB.org and read complaints and reviews before providing personal or financial information.
  • Report scams related to COVID-19. Please see BBB’s scam tracker report at BBB.org/scamtracker. Your experience may help someone else.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed guide on testing for COVID-19. Understand the different tests available.
  • FDA: COVID Information on FDA Regulated Products and EUA Information

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