By Benjamin Swasey
The Biden administration on Friday opened a phone line for people to order free at-home COVID-19 tests.
The phone number — 1-800-232-0233 — follows the launch earlier this week of a website to order the tests, and is available for those who may have difficulty accessing the internet or need additional help to place their orders.
According to the White House, the phone line is open from 8 a.m. to midnight ET seven days a week, and offers assistance in more than 150 languages.
An order contains four tests, and there's a limit of one order per residence.
The website — COVIDtests.gov — began taking at-home test orders on Tuesday and the tests began shipping out Thursday, according to White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients.
"The Postal Service is moving incredibly fast here," he said. "They are packing and shipping tests as soon as they arrive. Tens of millions of tests have arrived so far. It's an all-hands-on-deck effort."
The Biden administration — which has been criticized for not procuring the hundreds of millions of tests it's now acquired earlier, ahead of the omicron-driven surge — has said that the orders could take seven to 12 days to ship out.
In sending out the free tests, the White House is prioritizing what it calls "the most vulnerable Americans," as the first 20% of each day's orders are directed to ZIP codes that measure high on the federal government's Social Vulnerability Index.
"We want to make sure those communities are, instead of being the afterthought, first in line in so many ways," Dr. Cameron Webb, who advises the White House COVID response team, told NBC News. "That's taking steps in the right direction toward equity."
With reporting by NPR's Tamara Keith.
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