Federal website offering coronavirus tests hits some snags on its beta day

Wendy Lopez passes out in-home COVID test kits on Jan. 7 in Los Angeles.
Wendy Lopez passes out in-home coronavirus test kits at Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Middle School on Jan. 7 in Los Angeles. The federal government on Tuesday launched a website where people can order such tests,
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Americans on Tuesday were able for the first time to request coronavirus tests from a federal website, but some reported hitting snags that prevented them from finalizing orders of a critical diagnostic tool. opened for business a day ahead of schedule in what White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said was part of its “beta testing” phase. She added that the administration was anticipating having to address a “bug or two” in its rollout. That caveat turned out to be true, with dozens of people taking to social media to complain they were not able to finalize their orders of at-home tests that experts say are needed to help combat the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

Natalie Shure, a Boston resident of a three-unit building, wasn’t able to place an order Tuesday afternoon, she tweeted.


“I went in, put my address in and then got an error message that someone had already ordered for my address,” she said in an interview. “I retried several different combinations of, you know, putting my unit number into the line with the street number, putting it on its own line. None of those things worked.”

Other Twitter users complained of similar snafus. Victoria Knight, a reporter for Kaiser Health News, said on Twitter “the basement neighbors in my rowhouse beat us to ordering the tests.”

“While we have the same address, they put that they were in the ‘b unit’ while I put we were in the ‘a unit,’” she added. “but still no dice on our unit being able to order tests. any others having this problem??”

A hotline for those who are unable to order through the website “will be ready later this week,” said Kevin Munoz, White House assistant press secretary. was launched amid nationwide shortages of at-home tests and the public’s growing frustration over the lack of testing resources. President Biden announced last month that his administration will push to deliver 500 million at-home tests, and last week, he said that the administration will double the number to 1 billion tests.