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Some Americans blocked from ordering Biden’s free Covid tests at early website launches

Bring home COVID-19 self-test kits provided by the District of Columbia Government, which provide city residents with four free homecoming samples a day, are seen in this illustration taken on January 11, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

Americans on Tuesday began placing orders for free Covid tests promised by the Biden administration after the federal government rolled out the website a day earlier than expected - with some complaints on social media that they were blocked from ordering their own supplies.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the website, covidtests.gov, is in its testing phase and will officially launch Wednesday morning. Orders placed during the website's test phase on Tuesday are valid and will be shipped, White House spokesman Kevin Munoz told CNBC.

Each household is limited to four tests based on residential address. The White House said last week that it limited the number of tests people could order to ensure broad access to the program.

Samples can be ordered here: https://www.covidtests.gov/

After clicking "order free home test", the website redirects customers to a mail order form where you submit your name and address before checking out.

The postal service sends the tests 7 to 12 days after orders are placed, according to the Biden administration. The website on Tuesday said orders would start shipping at the end of the month.

While some customers said the website was simple and easy to use, others - especially people living in apartment buildings - reported problems in social media posts on Tuesday.

"Any website launch in our opinion is associated with risk," Psaki told reporters during a White House briefing Tuesday. "We can not guarantee that there will not be a mistake or two. But the best technical teams across the administration and the postal service are working hard to make this a success," she said.

The White House launched the website after a public outcry over widespread lack of testing during the busy holiday travel season as the highly contagious omicron Covid variant swept across the country. Pharmacies, large and small, were struggling to keep home tests in stock when demand suddenly rose.

President Joe Biden said the administration is procuring a total of 1 billion home tests to distribute to Americans for free. The Ministry of Defense awards contracts for the tests in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services.

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