USPS Free COVID Test Order Problems Reported as 'Small Percentage' Affected

The United States Postal Service (USPS) said the issues people were reporting regarding ordering free rapid COVID-19 tests were affecting only a "small percentage of orders."

President Joe Biden's administration soft-launched a website for Americans to order at-home tests on Tuesday, a day before the site's official rollout.

COVIDTests.gov provides a link for people to access an order form run by the Postal Service, allowing them to order four tests for every residential address. The tests "are completely free" and orders will usually ship in 7 to12 days, the federal website says.

However, there were some reports on Tuesday that the USPS' address verification tool was mistakenly enforcing the four-test cap on apartment buildings and other multi-unit dwellings.

A USPS spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek that the error was "occurring in a small percentage of orders."

"The Postal Service is seeing very limited cases of addresses that are not registered as multi-unit buildings which could lead to COVID-19 test kit ordering difficulties," the spokesperson said. "This is occurring in a small percentage of orders."

The spokesperson added that anyone who needs assistance with the ordering process can file a service request at emailus.usps.com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry, or contact a help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS to address the issue.

Several people took to social media on Tuesday reporting issues with ordering tests.

Natalie Shure tweeted: "Looks like the @USPS test ordering portal is either glitching, or doesn't differentiate between different units in apartment/condo buildings. Just got this error message."

Shure shared a screenshot of the USPS website that said: "Our records show that COVID-19 tests have already been ordered for this address. We are unable to process duplicate orders for the same address."

A screenshot of the same message was also tweeted by Zac Krislov, who added: "Did not expect Covid rapid-test distribution to have a 'bias towards single-family housing' subplot but here we are."

Some suggested people could get around the issue by entering their apartment number in the first line of the address form.

But Shure said in another tweet: "I tried reentering my address several different ways: putting my unit # on a separate line and on the same one as my street number, and as "1," "#1" and "Apt 1" - no luck!"

White House press secretary Jen Psaki emphasized that the website was in a "beta testing phase" when tests were available to order for the first time on Tuesday. It would officially launch on Wednesday morning, she told reporters at Tuesday's press briefing.

"We can't guarantee there won't be a bug or two," she said. "But the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success."

The new website's launch comes as Biden works to address criticism after the U.S. endured weeks of test shortages and long lines at test sites amid a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The president announced last month that the U.S. would purchase 500 million at-home tests to distribute to Americans for free.

Last week, Biden announced that he was doubling the order to a billion tests.

Rapid COVID-19 test kits await distribution for
Rapid COVID-19 test kits await distribution for free to people receiving their Covid-19 vaccines or boosters at Union Station in Los Angeles, California, on January 7, 2022. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images