How To Find Reliable COVID-19 Testing During The Omicron Surge

It can feel impossible to find a COVID self-test as omicron cases surge. There’s always the option of waiting in line for a PCR test, but it can take at least two days to get your results. 

Thankfully, there’s some hope on the horizon — the White House soon plans to produce more COVID tests and ship them to the public.

Until that day arrives, here are five tips for finding reliable COVID testing options in your city.   

Look for These Tests

When it comes to COVID tests, there are currently two available — antibody and viral

Antibody tests work to tell if you have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in your blood. These tests can determine if you’ve had a past COVID infection but aren’t recommended if you want to know if you are currently infected.

Viral tests can determine your infection by using a sample from your mouth or nose. Rapid viral tests are conducted in minutes and often include antigens or nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs). Some viral tests include PCR testing and must be sent to a laboratory to complete for further confirmation. 

Self-tests are examples of rapid viral tests and are great options for people who’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID or thinks they’re currently ill. There are several FDA-authorized self-tests available on the market.

  • Abbott BinaxNow Antigen Rapid Self-Test Kit 
  • Intrivo Diagnostics On/Go Antigen Self-Test
  • FlowFlex COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
  • iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
  • BD Veritor Digital Test Kit
  • InteliSwab Rapid Antigen Home Test Kit

Most of these options cost $25 or less.

Go to These Retailers 

Currently,  COVID self-tests are in high demand. It’s wise to check online and call local pharmacies before making plans to purchase rapid tests. Most companies limit how many they’ll sell to a customer.

Check out these retailers as you look for a self-test before you hit up your next family gathering:

  • Amazon
  • CVS
  • BestBuy
  • RiteAid
  • Sam’s Club
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

If you’re feeling unwell, you can use a food service delivery app like DoorDash to order a test kit and have it delivered to your home later that day.   

Check With Your Employer

Your employer may offer free testing depending on your work situation. If you suspect you have COVID, contact HR to see if your company has any rapid viral tests available. 

Some businesses have a stock of tests available for their employees and can even deliver them to your door. Others offer reimbursement options in which you purchase a test and are later compensated by your employer. 

Investigate Health Clinics and Community Centers

You might be able to find free testing opportunities at local health centers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a directory of neighborhood health clinics that offer COVID screenings. Note these tests are PCR, so you won’t get your results instantly. However, they provide highly accurate results.

Some of these federally backed clinics offer free tests, while others provide testing based on your health insurance. Many are currently busy because of the high omicron case numbers. It might be wise to call in advance to see if you can make an appointment and avoid standing in line. 

Additionally, check your city’s website to see if it offers free COVID testing at community centers. Due to high demand, many municipalities provide testing at libraries, fire departments, or malls. You might be able to find testing centers advertised on local Facebook groups or news stations.

Some States Offer Free Testing

Currently, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Washington offer free testing options to their residents. If you believe you’ve been exposed to COVID, you can have a rapid test delivered to your door. Simply go to your state website and enroll in the rapid-at-home program. 

At this time, test supplies are limited across the country, so you might receive a “no test available” message even though you’re successfully enrolled in the program. If you encounter this problem, check websites for other cities to see if free tests are available.  

Are More Free Tests Coming?

In late December, President Joe Biden announced his administration was poised to offer American citizens access to free rapid COVID tests. The federal government will launch a website in January to request at-home tests. 

Biden says his administration is prepared to ship as many as 500 million kits. Hopefully, the demand for in-person testing will diminish once the site goes active and people can have tests mailed to their door. 

Utilize any of these tips to find a COVID self-test. More tests are being manufactured, which will make it easier for you to check your symptoms and protect yourself and your loved ones.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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