LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A federal program to send free at-home COVID-19 tests to all Americans launched a day early.
The tests are part of the order of 500 million President Biden said his administration purchased last month. The site where Americans could request a rapid antigen test was originally scheduled to go live Wednesday, but was in operation a day early.
The site is hosted by the U.S. Postal Service and promises one order of four free at-home tests for each American household. The orders begin shipping later this month.
At-home COVID tests have been in high demand since the holidays, as people returned to pre-pandemic levels of travel and gathering with friends and loved ones. Stores have sold out or started limiting sales of the tests, and the demand has given rise to reports of price gouging and sketchy pop-up test sites suspected of harvesting people's personal information.
In administering the tests, Dr. Michael Daignault, an emergency room doctor at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, said that Omicron starts in the throat and moves to the nose, which is when using the home test kits, people should first swab their throat and then their nostril. Dr. Daignault said Omicron is detectable one to two days earlier in the saliva than in the nose.
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