The United States Postal Service (USPS) has made its fair share of changes to the delivery process over the last few years. In 2021, the agency implemented new service standards for certain mailing options, effectively increasing the amount of time it takes to deliver some packages across long distances. And earlier this year, the Postal Service axed one of its envelope shipping methods. Now, the USPS has another major delivery update to share with customers—but this one's better news. Read on to find out about the latest development.
The USPS will soon allow people to order more free COVID tests.
The USPS has been responsible for shipping and delivering free at-home COVID tests to people in the U.S. this year under an initiative from the White House. Residents across the country have been able to sign up for tests using an online USPS portal since Jan. 18, but it has been limited to one order of up to four tests for each household since the program started.
That won't be the case for long, however. A new update on the USPS website says that customers will be able to place a second order for tests soon to make a total of up to eight free at-home tests. "Starting next week, U.S. households will be able to place a total of two separate orders for free, at-home COVID-19 rapid tests (four tests per order). If an order was previously placed for your address, please check back then to place a second order," the Postal Service's website now reads.
President Biden announced the change this week.
President Joe Biden announced that the White House was expanding its initiative to allow up to eight tests per residential address during his State of the Union address on March 1. The Biden administration initially said in Dec. 2021 that it was planning to make half a billion free tests available to people across the country, but White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz recently told CNN that fewer than 300 million tests have been ordered so far.
"On testing, we have made hundreds of millions of tests available for you to order for free," Biden said during his address. "Even if you already ordered free tests, tonight, I'm announcing you can order another group of tests. Go to covidtests.gov starting next week and you can get more tests."
The USPS says it has already delivered more than 270 million COVID test kits.
On March 2, The Postal Service released new data on the agency's shipment and delivery of these free COVID tests. According to the report, the USPS has already delivered more than 270 million tests to American households. This means test kits have been sent to around 68 million households, as there are four tests per each kit.
"There are few assignments the Postal Service has received that better exemplify our public service mission than the request of the Biden Administration to deliver America's COVID-19 test kits," Postmaster General and CEO Louis DeJoy said in a statement. "It is a major point of pride throughout our organization to have met our own performance expectations and those of the public. We are grateful for the strong collaboration of our partners across the federal government, including the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. Thank you to our Postal Service employees, our union and management association partners for so effectively and efficiently delivering such strong performance across the board."
It will take at least a week for your tests to ship once you order them.
You will only be able to start ordering a second batch of tests next week, so it will likely take a few weeks for you to actually get them in your hands. According to the USPS, the tests typically ship within seven to 12 days of ordering—although some households reported waiting weeks longer than expected after ordering during the initial drop in mid-January. On March 1, the Postal Service said that it was taking the agency about 1.2 days on average to "deliver a test kit package once it has been received from the manufacturer, kitted, and entered into the mail stream."
You can request tests online or by phone if you're having trouble with the portal, lack internet access, or just need additional support. "To place an order, all you need is your name and residential address. No ID, credit card, or health insurance information is required. You may also share your email address to get updates on your order," the USPS says.
The agency will send you email notifications with shipping updates if you provided your email address with your order. Once your tests have been shipped, you should receive an email with an estimated delivery date and a tracking number that you can track the status of on the USPS website. But if you're still waiting on tests you've already ordered to be delivered, you should contact the Postal Service to get help if you believe there is a delivery issue.