Home COVID-19 Tests in High Demand for Events, Travel, and School Requirements
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Demand for home COVID-19 testing is increasing in northeast Ohio as more sites and events require a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination for the ‘admission.
The increased demand has raised concerns about possible shortages of rapid home tests, said Dr Christine Schmotzer, vice president of system pathology operations at teaching hospitals.
The tests have sold online and in pharmacies across the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in September that the temporary shortage of rapid tests could lead to increased demand for lab tests.
Schmotzer said medical experts are not concerned about the availability of tests for people who show symptoms of COVID-19 and need it for a medical evaluation or medical procedures in a hospital.
âWhat has created a kind of burden on the system is an increased number of places requiring either a vaccination or a negative test to get to an event or for certain trips,â Schmotzer said. “So this is the group that might be at a bit more risk because of the potential decreases in the availability of rapid tests.”
Most home tests are antigen tests and are not as accurate as PCR tests. Schmotzer said antigen tests need more than one viral load to detect if someone is positive. She noted that an antigen test is more reliable when people show symptoms of COVID-19. A PCR test, however, can detect a positive result at a lower viral load.
Schmotzer emphasized the importance of getting a good nasal swab and following the test kit instructions in a previous story with cleveland.com. In addition, it is best to test 3-7 days after exposure to COVID or in the first few days after symptoms appear for better accuracy.
The delta variant swept across the country at the end of the summer, causing an increase in the number of hospitalizations and deaths. And although data shows case rates are declining, thousands of cases still arrive in Ohio daily.
In addition to pharmacies, people can also get tests for free at branches of the Cuyahoga County Public Library and Cleveland Public Library Systems – as long as they are in stock.
The Ohio Department of Health has provided free BinaxNow home tests to libraries, local health departments, schools and universities, and other community partners, the Department of Health spokesperson wrote. Ohio, Alicia Shoults, in an email.
Shoults said the state initially purchased 2 million tests, and last week the supervisory board approved the purchase of an additional 1 million tests, with an option to purchase 400,000 home tests by months until June 2022.
The tests have flown off library shelves, and it’s important for people to call ahead to make sure the tests are available, said Rob Rua, spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Public Library. Rua said 11 branches in the library system distribute the tests to homes through their drive-thru windows where book service is typically performed, and the goal is to implement curbside service for branches soon. that do not have a drive-thru window.
He said some people need multiple kits because they may have multiple children and parents may also need to be tested due to potential exposure. Rua said on Wednesday that the library system distributed nearly 26,000 home tests.
Rua said the initial request was calm. “And then over the last month or so it’s been huge.”
Rua said the library would initially receive shipments of 2,000 home tests in the spring from the Ohio Department of Health, but this week the library received 16,000 tests.
The Cleveland Public Library is seeing similar high demand as people come downtown to take tests at the main library’s drive-thru window, said Steve Wohl, library system loan manager.
Before the delta variant soared, Wohl said the library was handing out 25 to 50 tests per week. But the week of August 23, the library started to see a slight uptick and handed out around 200 tests. Wohl said the number of tests provided “grew exponentially from there.”
He said the request came from parents and students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, as well as people attending weddings, concerts and sporting events.
Home tests are increasingly necessary, especially for people who need a result relatively quickly. President Joe Biden’s administration invoked the Defense Production Act in September to make 280 million rapid tests available, according to Kaiser Health News.
The administration also struck a deal with Walmart, Amazon and Kroger to have retailers sell tests at “up to 35 percent” than current prices for three months. People on Medicaid would have home testing fully covered, Biden said.
BinaxNow home tests can be purchased at drugstores such as CVS or Walgreens for $ 23.99. Still, tests like Ellume remain relatively expensive, especially for families who would likely need multiple tests. Ellume’s test kit costs $ 38.99, so a family of four without Medicaid would pay around $ 156.
However, other testing options are still available, including at pharmacies like CVS.
Akron Children’s Hospital said in a press release on Wednesday that it is starting drive-thru testing at its Akron campus for children, whether they are patients or have symptoms. Young adults up to the age of 26 still in the care of Akron Children’s Hospital may also be tested, the statement said. Appointments are required and can be scheduled through MyChart.
The Mercy Health branch in Lorain said in a press release Tuesday that it has walk-in clinics in six locations for people wishing to take a COVID-19 test. The clinics are open seven days a week, and on-site providers also offer “in-person and virtual visits to safely screen, isolate and treat patients with only mild symptoms,” the statement said.
The Shaker Heights Fire Department has also provided COVID-19 testing throughout the pandemic, in partnership with MetroHealth. Nurses from the hospital go to the Boulevard Chagrin fire station every week to perform PCR tests at the clinic while driving. Appointments are required and people can book them through MetroHealth.
Sweeney said the fire hall hasn’t seen a shortage of testing recently, and he said there were other places to go too if people looked closely enough.
âI think if someone is resourceful enough and is willing to look around a bit, I think you can find things,â Sweeney said. âI know there has been some media attention and there has been talk of testing being hard to find right now, but I think if you dig a little deeper you can take care of things. This is my most recent experience with people who collect stuff from the library, people who make appointments at CVS.