Shortage of at-home COVID test kits in Midstate; doctors recommend not traveling for holidays

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — Doctors are worried that COVID cases will continue to increase with people traveling for the holidays. A shortage of at-home COVID test kits isn’t helping.

The at-home tests have been fairly hard to come by for several months, but it’s even more noticeable now that families want to take precautions before they get together.

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Rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 are flying off shelves.

“The moment we get them in the door they are gone,” said Chad Blannett, Hershey Pharmacy director of marketing.

At Hershey Pharmacy, the problem is supply isn’t meeting demand.

“We are getting rationed amounts from our wholesalers every day but they are not remotely amounts that meet the current demand,” Blannett said.

One of the biggest reasons for the demand is people wanting to safely gather for Christmas and New Year’s.

“Everyone’s vaccinated but we’re coming for two or three states so I don’t know if everyone’s boostered up but everyone’s taking precautions,” said Charles Wahalen, who just received his booster shot.

“I think everyone agrees that increasingly, availabilities test could help people to travel and gather,” said Dr. Eugene Curley, infectious disease specialist with WellSpan Health.

But Curley says the better option right now is that “People should probably not travel and do any large gatherings at this time, because of the high level of community transmission of COVID-19.”

Whether you heed that advice or not, people still need to follow public health guidelines.

“We still need to be wearing masks and social distancing, particularly when there’s such a high level of community transmission,” Curley said.

Curley says now is the time to get vaccinated if you haven’t and get your booster if you’re past the six-month mark.

“We’re actively vaccinating every day which is a great sign. Our booster appointments are full the moment we put them out,” Blannett said. “Our pediatric appointments are full the moment we put them out, so that’s great.

Curley also wants people to realize that emergency rooms are still extremely full because of COVID patients, which means fewer beds and longer wait times for those who still need care who don’t have COVID.

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