Home-use Covid tests are popular and hard to find locally

At-home test are seen as another key tool to fight Covid but the kits are difficult to find in some places in the county. (The Enterprise/File)

VALE – Home-use Covid tests are in short supply locally, just as a national push for more access to testing begins.

President Joe Biden told Americans last week the government will stand up more vaccination and testing sites and make 500 million free at-home Covid rapid tests available beginning in January.

Biden’s remarks came as the nation braced for another round of Covid, this time the omicron variant of the infection that triggered large number of cases in South Africa and Great Britain.

The omicron variant now is linked to more than 50% of U.S. cases. The variant is also spreading an unprecedented rate and while there are indications omicron will not trigger severe cases of the infection, scientists are still deciphering data on the virus.

Jennifer Tolman, pharmacist at Malheur Drug in Vale, said the store sold out of its supply of at-home tests last week.

“They are hard to come by,” she said.

Tolman said the at-home rapid tests sell for about $30 and contain two test kits.

Rite Aid in Ontario was also out of the at-home Covid rapid tests, said cashier Mickey Longoria.

The tests at Rite Aid, said Longoria, retail for $24.99.

Longoria said there is no schedule when more of the home tests will be available.

Medicap Pharmacy in Nyssa does not carry the at-home tests, said pharmacy technician Amanda Hungate.

Demand for at-home tests is high enough that Walgreens established a four-item limit on the product.

The at-home test kits usually consist of test tubes, swabs, a mixing fluid and a testing card that resembles a pregnancy test.

The testing procedure is generally less invasive then other tests. The swab, for example, does not have to be inserted far up into the nostril to be effective. Instead, the swab can be inserted just inside a nostril and then rotated several times.

Once the sample is complete, the swab is inserted into a test tube solution. Then the swab is twisted a dozen or more times inside the test tube. Once the swab is pulled out of the solution, three drops of the fluid is squeezed into a port on the testing card.

About 15 minutes later, the test results will show on the testing card. If there is no infection only one line will appear in the testing card window. If the test is a positive, two lines will appear.

The home testing kits are a good tool, said Sarah Poe, Malheur County Health Department director.

“We do hope people use them as a resource,” said Poe.

According to health department data, Covid cases and the positivity rate – a metric used to gauge how far the virus has infiltrated the community – remain low.

The positivity rate for the week ending Dec. 12 for the county was 2.8% – the lowest since early July and only 14 Covid cases were reported.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

Previous coverage:

Delta, false info pose challenge in Malheur County’s Covid fight

Malheur County Health Department warns of more Covid hospitalizations, deaths as rates hold

Covid claims 2 more lives in Malheur County

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