At-home COVID tests still scarce in La., as feds work on process for Americans to order kits online

Reporter Lester Duhe details Baton Rouge's current situation when it comes to COVID-19 testing sites and at-home COVID-19 rapid tests.
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 10:45 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - We’ve seen the long lines at COVID testing sites before Christmas, but when could we see more of those at-home COVID-19 rapid tests?

There’s been a steady line every day at the Louisiana Leadership Institute on Hooper Road for free drive-through COVID-19 testing.

Since December 27, the organization has partnered with the Department of Health and Orion Laboratories to try and give people their COVID-19 test results in about 24 hours.

At-Home COVID tests still scarce in Louisiana, as feds work on process for Americans to order...
At-Home COVID tests still scarce in Louisiana, as feds work on process for Americans to order kits online(WAFB)

But the calls are growing louder to get more of those COVID tests you can do in your living room, back fully stocked on the shelves.

“There’s no question that it’s become harder the past couple of weeks to find rapid take home tests,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health on January 6.

On Monday, Jan. 10 a spokeswoman with LDH told WAFB, they are receiving weekly shipments of at-home rapid tests and are distributing them out to the community.

“Please note demand is outpacing supply. There are not enough at-home tests to meet the demand. That is why we want to remind people that testing alone is not a strategy to stay safe and protect others against Omicron. The best protection is still to get vaccinated and get boosted. PCR tests are widely available at our testing sites. We also conduct rapid testing at our testing locations. Go to Louisiana Department of Health for a list of testing sites in the area,” the statement wrote.

“We feel that in Louisiana, it’s everywhere across the country right now. We’re working as hard as we can to get more rapid antigen tests, both from the federal government and also on the private market,” said Dr. Kanter.

It kind of comes down to luck, when it comes to finding those at-home tests at some of the big-name pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS.

According to a spokesman at CVS Health, “We’re continuing to work around the clock to provide our stores with an inventory of the five over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 tests we offer: Abbott BinaxNOW, Acon FlowFlex, Quidel Quickvue, Ellume, and Pixel by LabCorp. To ensure equitable access to tests both in-store and digitally, we’ve added a limit of six test kits per purchase. Due to a recent surge in demand, and to retain community-based access to tests in our stores, there may be temporary out-of-stocks for these products on CVS.com.”

“The ongoing demand for rapid OTC COVID-19 tests has led to a critically short supply of tests nationwide, including at Walgreens,” said Zoe Krey, manager of retail and merchandising communications for Walgreens. “We share our customers’ concerns with the current situation as we work to secure more tests from manufacturers who are struggling to meet overall demand. We continue to manage our limited supply with actions such as four item limits to maximize the availability of OTC testing at Walgreens & Walgreens.com.”

“There’s been an unprecedented demand for tests,” said Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary.

The Biden Administration announced starting Saturday, Jan. 15 private health insurers are going to be required to cover up to 8 home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans.

According to CBS News, Psaki said “details on the government website are being finalized and several contracts have been awarded to procure the 500 million tests, saying Americans should be able to order them by the end of the month.”

“We expect that -- the contracts are structured in ways require that significant amounts are delivered on an aggressive timeline, the first of which should be arriving early next week. We expect to have all contracts awarded over the next two weeks and then Americans will begin being able to order these tests online later this month. We also expect to have details on the website as well as a hotline later this week. So these are all components that we’re working through and working to expedite as quickly as possible,” said Psaki at the White House Press Briefing on Monday, Jan. 10.

Dr. Kanter says if you’ve got symptoms and can’t find a rapid test, because we are currently in a surge, you should just assume you may have COVID and isolate yourself.

To find a testing location near you, click here.

The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), in cooperation with the Louisiana Army National Guard and Orion Laboratories, is extending community testing at the Louisiana Leadership Institute through January 30, 2022. Online pre-registration is recommended. Although it is a federal holiday, COVID 19 testing will be available on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 17, 2022. Community testing is free and available at The Louisiana Leadership Institute, located at 5763 Hooper Road. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Pre-registration is available here.

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