People wait in long lines for COVID-19 rapid tests

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-30 22:35:50-05

Holiday travel, family gatherings, and the surge of new COVID-19 cases are driving a huge demand for COVID-19 tests nationwide.

With at-home tests hard to find, many are heading to the nearest testing site ahead of ringing in the New Year.

“We came for Thanksgiving and actually it was hardly anybody here so then this time, I guess they got the word out which is good, we waited two hours,” said Vanessa Livesey of Paso Robles.

“We got here at a little bit before 9 and it's like 11:30 now so quite a while,” added Anneke Talke of San Luis Obispo.

Free rapid COVID-19 tests were provided on a first-come, first-served basis at the Atascadero Lake Park Pavilion on Thursday.

“We're doing around 60 tests an hour,” said Tom Cuddy, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department Public Information Officer.

Test results were available on-site within about 10 to 15 minutes.

“Now we can go traveling without worrying about getting my grandparents sick,” Talke said.

Most people we talked with said it was the final item on their to-do list before leaving town for the New Year.

“We're hoping it's good so we can just continue on our way down,” Livesey said.

Meanwhile, with instant at-home tests extremely hard to come by, many of the bigger pharmacies are limiting the number you can purchase.

CVS Pharmacy was out of three of their five tests online. A representative told us, “We’ve added a limit of six tests per purchase.”

Walgreens said on their website that due to holiday demand, they were limiting customers to four at-home COVID-19 testing products.

In a quick search, Rite Aid was sold out online of at least one of their at-home test kits.

As New Year’s Eve approaches, it’s a race for COVID-19 test results no matter where you’re able to get them.

“It's just a piece of mind knowing that everything's taken care of. Either you do or you don't have COVID,” said Lori Wooldridge of Arroyo Grande.

Keep in mind that at-home test kits range between $10 to $125 so that peace of mind may come with a price tag.

The local public health lab and the state lab will sequence a certain percentage of the tests to determine if they’re the Omicron variant.

Last week, the Biden Administration announced they will start mailing at-home COVID-19 test kits in January for free to any U.S. household that requests one.