El Pasoans seeking a COVID-19 test can now access free rapid tests through the United States Postal Service’s website.

Every residential address is eligible to receive four individual antigen tests as part of President Joe Biden’s effort to make tests more easily available, amid a dramatic rise in COVID infections due to the contagious omicron variant.

An order requires a name and residential address. An email is optional for tracking purposes.

The Spanish language order form is here.

The government has added a toll-free telephone number to order test kits: 800-232-0233. The phone line supports multiple languages, including English and Spanish.

USPS is expected to begin mailing the tests out by the end of January.

Antigen test results are often ready in 15 minutes. Although antigen tests are less accurate than PCR tests at detecting a COVID-19 infection, health experts say they are nonetheless a helpful tool for making decisions.

As in much of the nation, at-home rapid tests have been hard, if not impossible, to come by in El Paso given the rise in demand fueled by the spike in cases.

City officials reported 8,284 new COVID cases last week, but because of diminished local access to testing, the actual number could be far higher, local infectious disease specialists say.

The city of El Paso is encouraging residents to self-report positive COVID-19 cases determined through at-home tests via an electronic self-reporting form.

Some apartment dwellers reported issues Tuesday with ordering the free rapid tests, particularly if tenants of other units at the same street address had already done so. Twitter users were quick to discover a workaround by entering the apartment number on the same line as the street address.

“We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two, but the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

This story was updated on Friday, Jan. 21, to add a toll-free telephone number for ordering tests.

Cover photo: A COVID-19 rapid antigen test shows a positive result. (Image via JJonahJackelope/Creative Commons)