CLEVELAND (WJW) – As two COVID-19 variants spread rapidly across the country, finding a free at-home coronavirus test can often be a frustrating task.
“They are here, we’re processing them as fast as we can,” said Adam Litke, Interim Administrator for Geauga Public Health. “There are hundreds if not thousands of kits ready to go out that door today. People are lining up outside to get their test kits that have been ordered.”
The health department in Geauga County recently received a delivery of 1,600 test kits. Although supply was temporarily restored there, free take-home COVID tests are a challenge to find nearly everywhere else. At the Cleveland Public Library, a spokesperson said the test kits are out of stock despite receiving a shipment of 2,200 Monday.
Mark Adams, the Lorain County Health Commissioner, said demand is higher than ever before.
“A big surprise starting from just yesterday we didn’t really get a lot of phone calls up through Friday last week and just our phones have been off the hook,” said Adams. “We have 24 test kits left over and we started the week out with about 800 test kits.”
The Ohio Department of Health released the following statement about its supply of the take-home test: “…Initially, the state purchased a version of Abbott’s BinaxNOW at-home test that included a telehealth session from eMed. More recently, we have begun purchasing over-the-counter self-tests to help support our ability to make tests available. To date, the state has distributed nearly 4.8 million tests through these partners. In addition, we have now distributed more than 1 million tests in the month of December alone.”
The Ohio Department of Health sends the BinaxNOW tests to local libraries to distribute free of charge. Abbott the company that manufactures the take home tests stated production increased to meet demand.
“…We’re back up to making well over 50 million BinaxNOW tests per month and we’re heading to 70 million a month in January. This includes running our U.S. manufacturing facilities 24/7, hiring more workers and investing in automation,” ODH said.
The South Euclid-Lyndhurst Cuyahoga County Public Library branch ran out of test kits rapidly after it just received a shipment.
“We’re grateful to ODH for providing the kits to libraries throughout Ohio to distribute,” said Hallie Rich, Communications Director at the Cuyahoga County Public Library. “Having accessible home testing is an important part of the public health response to Covid right now. For those who cannot afford $8-12 per testing kit, the free kits available at the library are a lifesaver and could make the difference between someone spreading the virus and someone knowing they need to quarantine.”
Rich said shipments typically arrive every 7 to 10 days, but recently deliveries are closer to 10-14 days. She advised calling ahead of time to ensure a branch has the at home test kits in stock.
A spokesperson for Walgreens, where testing kits are available for purchase, said due to “incredible demand” a four-item purchase limit on the at home test is in effect.