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Demand for COVID tests leads to empty shelves, long lines, and wait times

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 4:38 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - With omicron cases surging and no let-up in sight, the demand for quick at-home test kits has skyrocketed.

The increase comes amid a shortage of testing kits across the country, leaving pharmacy shelves empty, leading to long lines and wait times for test results.

New Orleans resident Linda Fortune was desperately seeking a test to determine if she had the most contagious variant of COVID-19 yet, and she was having little luck.

“I feel good but we had a party and my sister-in-law got sick,” Fortune said. “They sent me all around walking. I’m 67 with diabetes and high blood pressure.”

New Orleans pharmacies are selling out faster than they can restock.

Drive-through PCR testing sites are set up at places like the Mahalia Jackson Theater and the Alario Center. After waiting 90 minutes in line, results will take 24-48 hours.

Doctors say they expect an increase in test kits to be made available this week.

In the meantime, masking, social distancing, and drive-through PCR tests may be the best bet for those who want to keep friends and loved ones safe.

The Louisiana Department of Health, which reported a pandemic-high 31,000 new cases of COVID-19 over the New Years Day weekend, says if you’ve been exposed and have received your booster shot or both doses of the vaccine, you don’t need to stay home but should mask and get tested.

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With the contagiousness of this variant, health educator Dr. Griggs recommends wearing a mask in unfamiliar settings or enclosed spaces.

If you develop symptoms, the LDH says to get tested and stay home. Most people with mild illness can recover at home without medical care.

If you have emergency symptoms, like trouble breathing, persistent pain, or chest pressure, experts say you should seek emergency care immediately.

For a list of testing and vaccination sites, visit the FOX 8 COVID-19 headquarters.

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