As of last month, the federal government opened a long-awaited website giving four free PCR tests to every household in America upon request. Administration officials said the tests take approximately seven to 12 days to be shipped to an address.
Angela Coes, assistant professor of nursing, said that the tests are extremely accurate and a good way to quickly know COVID-19 status. She said that the process was easy and took a short amount of time.
“It makes at-home tests easier to get,” Coes said. “I went online to do it and you put in your personal information with your name and address, and the United States Postal Service will send you four tests.”
However, the four-tests-per-household rule has some shortcomings. Coes said that those living with roommates or in an apartment may have issues getting tests due to shared addresses. The only student distinctions being post office box numbers also presents problems if students would like to order tests.
Emily Ma, junior graphic design major, is one of those who failed to get tests. She lives on campus at California Baptist University in the Colony apartments. She critiqued CBU’s lack of on-campus testing and she said she is frustrated with the difficulty of getting tested without the ability to drive herself.
“First off, COVID testing is extremely hard to book in this area,” Ma said. “Especially for someone who does not have a car, it is extremely disappointing that CBU does not offer nor require COVID testing at all. Even the CVS across the street does not have COVID testing. So when USPS announced they were delivering COVID tests, I hopped onto the site and was immediately told that this ‘household address’ already requested tests. Disappointing to say the least since college students are going out and interacting with lots of people every day.”
Coes also commented on the shortage of PCR tests outside of the website in stores. These tests also can have heavily inflated prices due to the demand of the area, or none in stock at all.
“Currently because of the surge with the perceived need for testing, there’s not a lot of availability,” Coes said. “It can be very difficult to get a home test at CVS and Rite Aid. They may not have any for sale. Then you’re also looking at having to pay for them.”
Eileen Alvarado, sophomore nursing major, originally thought the error message was due to a personal mistake, not address issues. She wanted the free tests as a precaution for peace of mind and convenience throughout the semester.
“It was just disappointing because I filled out the whole form and I thought I did something wrong on my part because it said it couldn’t get delivered, so I thought the address was wrong,” Alvarado said. “I wanted the tests just as a safety precaution in case I ever think I have COVID so I don’t have to go to a testing site and get tested.”
To request your four free PCR tests per address, visit www.covidtests.gov.