Supplies run low as demand for COVID tests skyrocket ahead of holidays

The holiday season and spread of omicron variant leads to shortage of COVID-19 tests
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 1:29 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The holidays are here and for many people that means spending time with friends and family — maybe for the first time in a year or two — which makes the rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID 19 even more concerning.

CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens both announced they would be limiting the number of rapid tests people could purchase in an effort to ensure everyone who needs a test can get one. But that isn’t going to be helpful for places that are already sold out of those tests, which is evident in Wilmington already.

At-home testing is not the only option, but it is one of the more convenient ways to protect yourself from the virus. Unlike last year when testing was the main defense against COVID, vaccination efforts have really ramped up and tests are not as prevalent as they once were.

“What I think we’re seeing now is people are wanting to test, and we appreciate that they want to test before they travel for the holidays, just to be sure before they go gather with family that maybe they haven’t seen in a couple of years so they want to be safe, so they’re trying to find a way to test,” Assistant Health Director for New Hanover County Carla Turner said.

You can still find free testing events in the area by going online to the state health department’s website, but the fact of the matter is people are going to catch COVID 19 this holiday season, so what do you do if you test positive?

“If you do test positive you need to do a couple of things, obviously you need to isolate, you need to stay isolated for 10 days past the day your symptoms started. Also very important — if you do test positive, then you think about who you’ve been around and you call those close contacts and you let them know that you have tested positive and that they should probably get tested as well,” Turner said.

Turner encourages everyone to get vaccinated that is eligible and while testing is a good way to help keep loved ones safe, the vaccine is more effective in keeping people healthy.

“I think maybe the best gift you can give this year to the people you care about is to protect yourself so you’re also protecting them,” she said.

It might be a bit more difficult to track down a test right now, but it’s not impossible. Turner explained how people looking for a test can track one down.

“There are a couple of places that are no-cost testing and I went to the NCDHHS website and I picked testing, and I put ‘find testing for me’. I put ‘no-cost community events’,” she said.

You can find a location to get a free vaccine online, as well as find free, local testing events.

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