Skip To Content

    People Who Live In Apartments Are Running Into Glitches While Trying To Order Their COVID Tests Through USPS, And I'm Genuinely Wondering If This Process Had To Be So Complicated

    "Why are we trying to match COVID-specific problems with the regular call menu I'd hit up if USPS had lost a decorative throw pillow?"

    In case you missed it, the federal government has teamed up with USPS to send every household in America four free antigen rapid at-home COVID tests.

    An open COVID-19 testing kit
    Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

    In addition to providing these rapid at-home tests, the government has also mandated that health insurers must cover the costs of up to eight rapid at-home tests for each insured individual per month.

    Given that a) we're in the middle of the Omicron surge and b) tests are rather hard to come by right now, this is a major move.

    A sign saying COVID tests are out of stock on the window of a CVS pharmacy
    Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images

    Even though the program should take away some of the stress surrounding finding a COVID test, it isn't without its glitches.

    The United States Postal Service webpage where you can order a COVID test

    People have taken to Twitter to share their qualms with the system.

    look I’m happy about the free COVID tests but I can already see the SAME inequities rearing their ugly head. Multi family/generational homes, the non-domiciled, those without access to the internet, glitches in entering addresses. Someone please make it make sense 🤦🏿‍♀️

    Twitter: @IEMcElroy

    Some have noted that those who live in apartments are having issues while placing their orders, often getting a message that reads "At home COVID-19 tests have already been ordered for this address."

    about to knock on doors to find my apartment’s covid test plug brb

    Twitter: @kegelsandlox

    Julian Randall, who lives in a two-flat apartment in Chicago, tweeted about his struggles when it came to ordering his four free tests.

    The fact I can't get free COVID tests bc I live in an apartment and my upstairs neighbor put in an order is an absolutely cartoonish design flaw in this rollout

    Twitter: @JulianThePoet

    Julian said he tried several of the solutions people had offered in the reply tweets, but none of them worked in his situation.

    Very much appreciate all the folks relaying fixes in the comments. I've unfortunately typed "apartment" "apt" and "unit" in every conceivable combination and no changes. I hope this continues to work for others

    Twitter: @JulianThePoet

    One of the most commonly suggested potential fixes for this issue is to type your apartment number on the street address line instead of the apartment/suite number line.

    Rapid COVID Tests are Available; https://t.co/r0Oqz1pmDv There’s a bug on the @USPS site that if someone in your Apt Building has requested tests, you are blocked from requesting as well. Here is a solution; Place your Apt/Suite # on the Street Address Line not Apt/Suite Line.

    Twitter: @netiamccray

    While this has worked for some, others have expressed that their order was still unable to process.

    Julian turned to USPS's customer service line, which he compared to navigating a maze.

    "I live alone, have no children, and I'm an author of middle grade novels, so I work remotely and on my own hours," Julian said. "Even still, me having to correct a massive design flaw in this rollout took up an hour I simply didn't have to give. If it's this difficult for someone in my circumstances to get hold of a test, how does it affect others?"

    Julian also noted that he had been noticing a lot of people expressing guilt for placing orders for tests.

    @JulianThePoet @YesThatMGibson Oh, yikes. I managed to order mine and now I'm worried I've just ruined it for all the people in my building, many of whom are older and much higher risk than me. Really hope this gets sorted out.

    Twitter: @Michelle_523

    "I saw stacks of replies and quote tweets from people anxious and worried that they had accidentally 'screwed over' their whole building just by ordering their tests," he told BuzzFeed. "I just want to say to those folks that this failure isn't your fault, isn't our fault. These are systemic failings, period. I see some of us feeling an instinct to internalize that if we are disenfranchised it is because we have done something wrong. Folks shouldn't feel guilty for ordering tests, but whoever and everyone involved with not thoroughly testing and workshopping how this address-based plan was foolhardy and exclusive at best, absolutely should."

    USPS told BuzzFeed that they are aware of this issue and are currently working on addressing it.

    "The Postal Service is seeing very limited cases of addresses that are not registered as multi-unit buildings, which could lead to COVID test kit ordering difficulties. This is occurring in a small percentage of orders,"  USPS spokesperson Dave Partenheimer said. 

    This flaw in the system is drawing a lot of criticism and is raising points about the ways people who live apartments, dorms, or multigenerational dwellings are being frozen out by this initiative.

    The fact that we need to have multiple workarounds so people living in apartments/dorms/etc can access a covid test is absurd

    Twitter: @exodus_illus

    So how are they distributing the 4 Covid test for college kids??? I live in a student apartment and are we all getting 4 or do we have to equally distribute those 4

    Twitter: @Liliana244212

    While some have pointed out some possible solutions USPS could consider implementing, it still does not account for people who do not have permanent addresses or the amount of people who live at a given address.

    USPS could just drop these COVID tests in our mailbox and so like they do with the junk mail and add “Or current resident.”

    Twitter: @pcallowv

    If you're running into any issues with ordering tests, Partenheimer suggests filing an online customer service claim with USPS or calling 800-232-0233.

    A USPS mailbox
    Ira L. Black - Corbis / Corbis via Getty Images

    Have you ordered your tests yet? If you've had any issues with ordering, were you able to get them resolved?