WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) — Beginning Tuesday, the White House will distribute half a billion free, at-home COVID-19 rapid tests to American households amid the latest coronavirus surge. This comes as President Joe Biden’s administration is purchasing one billion tests to increase national testing capacity.

Originally, ordering of tests was to begin Wednesday, but the site through the U.S. Postal Service went live Tuesday morning.

Under the initial program, people can request four free tests be sent to their home address. Tests can be ordered online at covidtests.gov and will take between seven to 12 days to ship after an order is placed.

Based on that shipment time frame, Americans will need to place order requests prior to an onset of symptoms. Common COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever, chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle/body aches
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion

Under the omicron variant, mild cases have reported cold-like symptoms that include a headache, chest or back pain and a dry cough or scratchy throat.

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends individuals test if they develop COVID-19 symptoms or have come into close contact with a positive case within the past five days. Similarly, testing is recommended for people gathering indoors with individuals who are either high risk or unvaccinated, per a White House press release.

“To ensure equity and access for all Americans, the Administration will also launch a call line to help those unable to access the website to place orders, and work with national and local community-based organizations to support the nation’s hardest-hit and highest-risk communities in requesting tests,” the release read in part.

This follows the Biden administration’s earlier announcement that private health insurance companies will be required to cover at-home COVID-19 tests for free, as of Jan. 15.