ST. LOUIS — City of St. Louis resident Kyle Brooks was on his phone Tuesday night.  He ordered four at-home COVID-19 tests for free.  Brooks was one of the millions of Americans accessing a federal website officially launching Wednesday.

“I just got my order number,” said Brooks after filling out an online form.  The kits are part of a federal effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

Hospitalizations have strained health care systems, as the Omicron variant spreads.   

Four kits will be sent to any household requesting them.  They are expected to arrive in late January.  Zipcodes with the highest COVID-19 rates will be given shipment priority.  

At-home test kits have been hard to find.  Rick Williams, co-owner of Ladue Pharmacy said, “We get calls literally all day long for the tests.” 

He said the rapid tests provide results in 15 minutes.  Ladue pharmacy also provides PCR testing, which requires a lab analysis.  

Medical experts say the rapid tests are not perfect but do help identify contagious individuals so they can isolate.  Brooks said having test kits in his home will make him more likely to test himself if he’s sick. 

“It definitely makes it easier,” he said.