Editorial | The government’s COVID-19 testing website needs to be more efficient


AP Photo/Steven Senne

The United States government website COVIDTests.gov displayed on a computer screen in Walpole, Massachusetts, on Wednesday.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

As we approach our third year of the pandemic and case counts surge yet again, it’s hard to believe that the federal government is still scrambling to come up with ways for people to stay safe and test for COVID-19.

President Joe Biden rolled out a website on Tuesday for each household to receive up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests. The website’s rollout had many bumps, including people being blocked from ordering tests if someone else in their apartment building already requested them. As college students who live in apartment buildings with more than four roommates and dorms, this kind of mistake can prevent many from receiving the tests they need to ensure they are not spreading the virus.

The system the president created to ship out tests is flawed and in a time where getting COVID-19 can be life or death for those who are immunocompromised, this isn’t the time to fail. There needs to be a better and more efficient way to send out tests, and the government needs to ensure that everyone is able to receive a test if they are exposed or are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

As at-home tests fly off the shelves at alarming rates, the rollout of the government’s website seems like a good thing. However, creating a flawed website that frustrates many who are just trying to keep themselves and their families safe creates a whole new set of problems. Being unable to order a COVID-19 test to your apartment because someone else in your building already has is worrisome to the more than 39 million Americans who live in apartments. Only being able to order four tests despite living with six people is another flaw in the system.

Additionally, the tests are being mailed out through the U.S. Postal Service which is currently struggling to get regular mail out because of supply chain issues. Also, as of Tuesday, 19,200 postal workers have tested positive for COVID-19 or are quarantining.

As college students who are frequently interacting with others and because in-person classes begin next week, it is crucial to have accessible at-home tests to keep us and our community safe. Many Pitt students live with many roommates or in large dorms, and if COVID-19 tests can’t get to us because of a flawed website, it could be dangerous for those who are immunocompromised. It can also lead to a continued spread in our community and in neighborhoods where students reside.

To make this pandemic end and to have life go back to normal, it’s important to use all the resources possible. Faulty websites and flawed systems only extend the pandemic and create more problems. To make this go smoother, the government should create a more efficient system to keep us all safe.