Local urgent cares swamped partly because of at-home COVID rapid test shortage

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP Pa. (WHTM) — There’s a national shortage of at-home COVID rapid tests and the Midstate is feeling it. As those testing positive increase and breakthrough cases become more common — tests are important.

There aren’t a whole lot of options in the area for rapid tests without an appointment and every pharmacy abc27 checked with is out of stock for those at-home tests.

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That leaves smaller clinics that do offer them overwhelmed.

Patient counts at Aspire Care’s urgent care have tripled over the past month and a half.

“I just checked today and within the first four hours of opening business we have registered 71 individuals,” Dr. David White, director of urgent care, said.

That’s because Aspire can turn around COVID test results in minutes much faster than other options.

“Just months ago we were able to get as many tests as we needed but now because the demand is so high, even we are being allotted a certain number of tests per month,” White said.

One of the reasons they’re being swamped is because at-home testing kits aren’t available.

“We do have scarcity and low supplies of these home tests and it’s really inexcusable because we’ve had these home tests, at least the technology for them, for over a year,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Pittsburgh based infectious disease, critical care, and emergency medicine physician, said.

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 antigen self-test is one of the most popular and you can see on its website, it’s out of stock almost everywhere.

“We have many unvaccinated people. We have a more contagious variant. We have employers trying to keep their workplaces safe,” Adalja said. “Having easy availability of home tests at home that are cheap, that are ubiquitous, is going to be critical.”

President Biden said the federal government will use the defense production act to ensure manufacturers have the raw materials they need to make tests. He said this month the U.S. would purchase 280 million rapid tests.

“Not only do they need testing, they need accurate testing and that’s what we’re trying to do as best we can,” White said.

Aspire Care is planning on a pop-up drive-through clinic for testing in the next few weeks.

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