Before you head to a holiday gathering, it might be a good idea to take a COVID test.
But tests are getting harder to find.
“Right now in Michigan, we are having a large shortage, as they are across the entire nation, for the rapid test,” said Kris Tuchek.
She and Amber Sprague-Rice run Ouch Urgent Care in St. Johns, Michigan. Over the last year, they say they’ve completed over one million covid-19 tests for their community, but now demand is rising even higher.
“A lot of the government agencies, school agencies, large corporations started stockpiling a lot of the rapid tests faster than consumers, everyday users could get their hands on those tests,” said Tuchek.
“So our schools are starting to run out, to be able to do the testing that they were requiring and so then, of course, it’s going to fall back on the private sector,” said Sprague-Rice.
Sprague-Rice and Tuchek say they’re well-stocked, at least for now. Their clinic has a deal with a test supplier.
“They do tell us that stock is running low. But we don’t know, we don’t know when we will totally run out of tests as well,” said Tuchek.
So we checked for ourselves.
According to CVS.com, there are COVID tests available at some stores in most major U.S. cities, just maybe not the one down the street.
The challenge is in rural areas, where you may have to drive an hour or more to find a store with tests in stock.
“You’re going to see this happen for the next month, where everybody wants all these test kits because of the holiday season,” said Jack Buffington.
Buffington runs the supply chain program at the University of Denver. He says there are many aspects to this shortage, but one factor is key.
“Pretty much anything that’s related to medical supplies has had some, encountered some issue because these aren’t normal commodities. These have to be done in. You know this isn’t a plastic toy. This has to have certain levels of sanitation and safety unlike anything else,” he said.
Those factors, combined with labor shortages and delays in overseas shipping, could make this holiday season more difficult for families who want to celebrate together.
It will also be difficult for the doctors and nurses battling a surge in coronavirus cases.
“Our rates are very high, and so it’s looking a lot like last fall to us here in Michigan. Our rates are high, and in the rural areas, our vaccination rates are low, and so we are seeing people getting pretty sick,” said Sprague-Rice