At-home COVID testing kits become popular item from unexpected place


CLEVELAND (WJW) – After months of little to no interest, at-home COVID-19 testing kits are one of the most desired items from a place you may not expect.

“Increase in demand has been mind-blowing,” said Stephen Wohl, Lending Manager at the Cleveland Public Library.

Many local library branches have a consistently restocked supply of rapid at home COVID tests available for free pickup.

The Abbott BinaxNOW rapid tests are provided to libraries by the Ohio Department of Health.

“In the past two weeks alone, we’ve given out more tests than we have in the past four months since we started distributing them here at the library,” said Wohl.

Demand picked up quickly after delta cases started to rise, students got back to school and more venues announced they would require a negative COVID test for entry, according to Wohl.

“We gave out 135 yesterday which was the most we’ve ever given out in a day,” he said. “We gave out over 65 so far today. Last week, we gave out over 430. The prior week was 400, our highest before that was about 50 tests, so about four times as many per week that we’re giving out right now.”

Test kits are available at both the main branch of the Cleveland Public Library as well as 11 branches of the Cuyahoga County Public Library.

Visitors are encouraged to use the walk-up or drive-thru window to request a test kit.

“There’s been such a demand. Especially since school began, we are having difficulty keeping them in stock. We’re constantly reordering them and trying to get as many as we can,” said Robert Rua, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications for the Cuyahoga County Public Library.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, there is no shortage of the testing kits they provide.

“We’ve run out at locations but we haven’t run out entirely,” said Rua. “The supply chain really hasn’t been too much of an issue. When we need to order more, they are very responsive and quick to get us kits.”

A spokesperson for ODH said, “Because the tests are conducted in a guided manner through a virtual appointment, and the results are read and reported by the telehealth provider, and in turn appear on the dashboard.”

This year, ODH purchased 2 million of the rapid at-home tests with the plan to make the tests accessible to people across the state. Last month, 246 Ohio library locations provided more than 53,000 tests, according to ODH.

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