Shortage of at-home COVID tests making waits worse at testing sites

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- If you're hoping to get ahold of an at-home testing kit ahead of a New Year's Eve party, it may be hard as they're in short supply pretty much everywhere.

There's a lot of people trying to avoid a two or three-hour long wait in line at testing sites to make sure they aren't spreading COVID-19, but maybe part of the reason the wait is so long is because there's no other option.

"We've been trying to find some at home tests, we've tried a couple different pharmacies, weren't able to find anything, everything online either not for sale or it was indefinite when it would be able to ship," said Nathaniel Haack, one of the many struggling with trying find at-home testing kits.

Hayat Pharmacist Hashim Zaibak said it's a problem that's been here since before Christmas.

"There was a huge shortage of the at-home tests last week especially with the Christmas holiday, a lot of places, including us, are out of stock," said Zaibak.

He said there's concerns when they are available again, they won't be as affordable.

"The wholesalers have tripled the price of the at-home tests because of the high demand so some of the people are going to see the at-home tests coming back into the market but probably at a higher price unfortunately," said Zaibak.

To help address the need, President Joe Biden said the government will be shipping 500 million at-home testing kits for free to people starting in January.

However, there are concerns raised by the Food and Drug Administration that early research points to reduced effectiveness in detecting the Omicron variant.

Haack said something more should probably be done to address testing needs.

"Who knows how many cases are not getting detected, because people are not willing to wait three hours in line, or not able to, not just not willing, but some people don't have that time. I'm taking a half day from work to do this," said Haack.

Health officials said even with at-home tests, following up with a PCR test at a testing site is still a good idea.

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