Dawn O’Connell of HHS said the website will remain functional to receive orders through the holidays and “we reserve the right to keep it open even longer if we’re starting to see an increase in cases.”
“If there is a demand for these tests, we want to make sure that they're made available to the American people for free in this way,” O'Connell said. “But, at this point, our focus is getting through the holidays and making sure folks can take a test if they're going to see Grandma for Thanksgiving."
The tests are designed to detect COVID variants currently circulating, and are intended for use by the end of the year. But they will include instructions on how to verify extended expiration dates, the department said.
RELATED: If you have older test kits, check here to see if the expiration has been extended
A refresher: How COVID-19 tests work
When should you test? If you have symptoms, test immediately. If you do not have symptoms but have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, wait at least 5 full days after your exposure before taking a test.
As explained by the Food and Drug Administration, there are two types of tests:
- PCR tests are the “gold standard” test done by a laboratory and are more likely to detect the virus than antigen or rapid tests. PCR test samples are usually be taken by a health care provider and sent to a lab. Results may take up to 3 days.
- Antigen tests are rapid tests that can be done at home and produce results in 15-30 minutes.
- Positive antigen results are very accurate and reliable. However antigen tests are less likely to detect the virus than PCR tests — especially early in an infection or in people who do not have symptoms. For that reason, the FDA recommends people who get negative results with an at-home test use multiple tests over a certain time period, such as 2-3 days.
- If your at-home antigen tests gives a positive result, it means you most likely have the virus and should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance to stay home, isolate from others, and seek follow-up care with a health care provider.
- If your test gives a negative result, test again 48 hours after the first negative test, for a total of at least two tests. If you get a negative result on the second test and you are still concerned that you could have COVID, take a third test 48 hours later or consider getting a PCR lab test from a health provider.
How to find a COVID-19 test near you:
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, COVID tests are widely available at local health departments and kiosks statewide. Look up the nearest location here.