INDIANAPOLIS — The federal government’s website, covidtests.gov, officially went live today – but not without a few hiccups.
For the first time ever, Americans nationwide are able to log on to 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 U.S. Postal Service within 7-12 days of ordering.
However, despite silently launching the website at a limited capacity on Tuesday during “beta testing”, Hoosiers still reported experiencing issues on Wednesday during the official launch.
“I went on immediately to try to order for my household which was easy,” said Becky Culp of Zionsville. “And then I have three children who live in university towns and I had different experiences with them.”
Culp said she tried to submit an order for her daughter who lives in university housing at Indiana University. She said she entered her daughter’s specific room number but still received an error message.
“[The website] says a test has already been ordered for that address. So I was rejected,” said Culp.
David Williams, a long-term resident of the FairBridge Inn on the city’s southside, said he got the same error. He said he has lived at the hotel for the past two and a half years and has never had a problem getting mail shipped to his address.
“I’m around the public all the time and you never know when I might come in contact [with COVID-19],” said Williams. “I just wanted to have [the tests] to be on the safe side so I don’t always have to run someplace else and I can just test myself.”
Reports of problems relating to the website’s address verification tool began Tuesday afternoon. A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service said in a statement that the error was “occurring in a small percentage of orders.”
“Those need to be addressed and those [congregate settings] are probably the places that are most at risk,” said Culp.
“The good news is one – the White House is aware of it,” said Thomas Duszynski, director of Epidemiology Education at the Richard M Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI.
Duszynski said the issue is likely a computer error and a “short hiccup in the system that will be corrected within the coming days.” That is why he suggests Hoosiers frequently check back.
“This is one of the easiest websites I’ve seen ever from the federal government to use. So it just takes a couple of minutes if that,” said Duszynski. “Watch for an announcement that this has been corrected and then log back in and order your tests.”
“Biggest piece of advice is just to be patient and not to be quick to 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 in order to prey on unsuspecting individuals.
“I wouldn’t just buy anything that you see online. First, you want to make sure if you’re purchasing an at-home or over-the-counter kit, that it’s FDA approved,” said Adamany. “Scammers are going to look to take advantage of confusing you.
The BBB of Central Indiana provided the following ways you can avoid scammers:
- Visit the US Health and Human Services (https://www.hhs.gov) website to find a valid testing site or the Indiana State Health Department
- If personal data such as birthdate, social security, financial information, or other private information was shared at registration to get tested and no results have been returned as promised- and you suspect fraud, report it to identitytheft.gov
- Before going to a test facility or ordering a test kit online check the name of the company on BBB.org and read the complaints and reviews before providing any personal or financial information.
- Report COVID-19 related scams. Please visit BBBs scam tracker report at BBB.org/scamtracker. Your experience may help someone else.
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed guide to testing for COVID-19. Understand the different tests available.
- FDA: COVID Information on FDA Regulated Products and Information about EUAs