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Kaʻū Residents Hit Snag in Attempts to Order Free At-Home COVID Tests Through USPS

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The federal government’s rollout to send four free at-home COVID-19 tests to homes across the nation is hitting a snag on the Big Island as residents in Ocean View are running into error messages in their attempts to sign up to receive the kits.

The website where tests could be ordered went live on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The official launch of the site was Wednesday. Ruth Beauchan, who has lived in Ocean View since 2014, said she went to sign up on Tuesday and was directed to the USPS website.

When she put in her P.O. Box the site gave her an error indicating tests couldnʻt be sent to the box. Beauchan, 72, understood the logic behind that. However, when she entered her street address, USPS didn’t recognize it.

Courtesy of Ruth Beauchan

Beauchan said there is no USPS street delivery in Ocean View. All residents either have a P.O. Box through the post office, which has 1,600 boxes in use, or rent a box at the Kahuku Gift and Garden shop.

When she receives packages, Beauchan said the post office identifies her through the P.O. Box.

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Beauchan said she was excited about signing up to get free COVID tests. As a senior citizen, she liked the idea of having an at-home test in case of emergencies.

“They have to come up with a better system,” Beauchan said.

Lorita Kawakami has lived in Ocean View for a year and half. She rents a P.O. Box at the Kahuku Gift Shop. Kawakami also tried to order test kits this week but was unsuccessful.

“If I put my street address in, USPS can’t find my address,” Kawakami said.

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Kawakami also tried the address to the shop, however, the site indicated that someone from that address has already ordered.

Kawakami said having an at-home test is good to have.

“There was one time I felt sick and you think it’s COVID,” she said, adding having test kits would bring peace of mind.

A USPS spokesperson told Big Island Now residential P.O. Boxes can use the website to order the free test kits. While USPS didnʻt address the issue Ocean View residents are facing, they confirmed there have been other problems with the rollout.

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“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,” USPS stated. “This is occurring in a small percentage of orders.”

Those with business P.O. Boxes will not be able to use the site. The spokesperson said they would continue to look into the issue that is going on in Ocean View.

For assistance in the ordering process, the USPS recommends filing a service request at https://emailus.usps.com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry or contacting our help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS, to help address the issue.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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