As the nationwide demand for home test kits soars during the holiday season, the shortage is affecting the stock of home test kits at local retailers.
Travel precautions during the holidays and a nationwide surge of COVID-19 infections spurred by the omicron variant lead many to use home test kits to monitor their infection status as a safety measure extra before or after any celebratory gathering.
Lima’s professional pharmacy in Eureka saw daily interest far exceed the monthly stock of 24 items allocated to the store by its wholesale supplier.
“It’s terrible. We can’t keep them in stock. We were only able to get a few at a time, they were allocated to us. And we just can’t keep enough in stock,” Lima technician Kristin Campbell told The Times-Standard. “Personally, I probably got 30 calls today from people looking for test kits and that’s just me on a team of 10. We have all received about the same number of calls from customers.
With insufficient supplies, staff in Lima have referred customers to chain stores, which have priority over independent pharmacies, in the hope that they can always find a kit.
âWe send people to Walgreens or Walmart. I understand they get their orders on Friday, so people are rushing over to these big boxes, but they sell out at noon, âsaid Campbell.
A search of available stock at local Walmart, Target and Walgreens stores for BinaxNOW, EverlyWell and Ellume home COVID-19 test kits at local chain retailers has been found to be out of stock or the results are unavailable.
A representative for Target told The Times-Standard that the company is working to maintain availability.
âWhile I cannot speak specifically to Eureka, Target is working with vendors to ensure the supply and regularly restock COVID-19 in-home in stores across the country to meet strong customer demand this holiday season. . We have many tests available online and encourage customers to buy them from Target.com, âspokesperson Kayla CastaÃ±eda said.
Barnes Arcata Family Drug Store ran out of home testing on Tuesday afternoon, days after receiving its last shipment. The independent retailer started receiving the kits towards the end of the summer, but has not been able to maintain a steady supply since.
âMaybe a week or so ago we ran out of stock and then ran out,â manager Adam Dozier said.
The Arcata store was unable to place an order with its wholesaler despite constant monitoring of available products.
âWe usually try to check them several times a day to see if they are in stock at our wholesaler. If they are, we’ll buy them, but then we burn them pretty quickly, âDozier added.
While the demand for testing is now higher than ever, the inconsistent supply situation and consistently high demand make it difficult for the Arcata store to determine whether the current spike in cases and holiday precautions are causing the shortage in the shop.
âIt would be hard to say. I mean, the supply is unequal and the demand is high, âDozier pointed out.
Contacted by The Times-Standard on Wednesday afternoon, Fortuna’s Green’s Pharmacy still had home test kits in stock. However, the store has not been able to replenish inventory as demand increases.
âRight now we can’t restock, but we have stock,â said manager Susan Burgess. “So hopefully when these run out, we can order more.” “
Green’s ordered kits every few weeks, also receiving 24 per shipment. Kits sold more during the summer, with demand declining in the fall. The store is now experiencing an increase in demand.
âSales (of test kits) are starting to increase probably over the past two weeks,â said Burgess, adding that demand for COVID-19 vaccinations at Green’s has remained constant throughout their availability.
With tests remaining hard to find in moms and pop-ups and large national retail chains, along with a limited supply in hospitals and public health facilities, President Joe Biden announced the government would provide $ 500 million. free home rapid test kits. Government efforts will also be extended to increase support to hospitals under pressure and redouble efforts in immunization and reinforcement.
As the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, Biden detailed the major changes to his COVID-19 winter plan, his hand forced by the fast-spreading variant, whose properties are not yet fully understood by scientists. His message was clear that the winter vacation could be close to normal for the vaccinated while potentially dangerous for the unvaccinated.
âIt’s the only responsible thing to do,â Biden said. âOmicron is a serious and potentially fatal business for unvaccinated people. “
Humboldt County residents looking for COVID-19 testing through public health can view locations and availability at https://humboldtgov.org/2787/Test-Enregistration or by calling 888-634-1123.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Mario Cortez can be reached at 707-441-0526.