COVID test kits still hard to find in Stanislaus County. But orders are on the way

City of Modesto
·3 min read

Home test kits are useful for families affected by COVID-19. But it’s still a challenge to find the home tests in stores in Stanislaus County.

And it’s not easy for retail pharmacies to order them.

“I am checking everyday to see if we can get more,” said Manpreet Atwal, a pharmacist at Carranza Pharmacy in Hughson.

Atwal checked on a computer screen Thursday and found he could not place an order. “It’s saying ‘not available.’ Zero,” he said.

The independent drugstore in Hughson was able to order 10 last week, which isn’t nearly enough to go around for the city’s 7,300 residents. Store employees expected the last tests would be sold by the end of the business day. The suggested retail price for a pack of two tests was $26.73.

Familia Farmacia on Crows Landing Road had at least 40 test kits in stock Thursday. The tests came in the previous day, an employee said, adding they were not expected to last long.

A tremendous surge in omicron variant infections has recently swept across Stanislaus County, creating a demand for rapid self-testing. People use the at-home tests to tell if their symptoms are COVID-19, if they were infected by a recent exposure or their child should stay home from school.

Of course, the home test kits are also sought by millions of people across California and the nation. The turn-around time for results of PCR diagnostic tests in the Modesto area can be 72 hours or longer, depending on the testing site.

Buying the rapid antigen tests at a store is faster than ordering online and waiting for shipping. The home tests provide results in 15 to 30 minutes.

The CVS Pharmacy chain said Thursday that “we continue to work around the clock to secure additional COVID-19 (home) tests from our vendors and to get those tests on the shelves of our stores. ... Due to a recent surge in demand, and to retain community-based access to tests in our stores, there may be temporary out-of-stocks for these products on CVS.com.”

When the tests are put out on shelves, CVS has a limit of six test kits per purchase, the statement said.

President Biden pushes for home tests

President Joe Biden has required that insurance companies, effective Jan. 15, cover the cost of home testing so it’s free for people covered by private health insurance. So far, details on getting reimbursed for over-the-counter test-kit purchases were hazy.

As an example, insurance company Aetna posted an item on reimbursement for test-kit purchases, saying “information is evolving quickly. So be sure to check back regularly for updates.”

The Biden administration has arranged for shipping a billion test kits to people who order the free tests online. Early Thursday afternoon, almost 51,000 people were using the COVID-tests.gov site for placing orders, according to analytics.usa.gov. Shipping is expected to take 7 to 12 days.

Each American household is eligible to order four tests at no cost.

As part of Biden’s “Path Out of the Pandemic” campaign, health centers and rural health clinics can place orders for the at-home tests. Lower income people in Stanislaus County and the San Joaquin Valley are among the 29 million people served by community health centers nationwide.

Golden Valley Health Centers has enrolled in the federal program for getting test kits, spokeswoman Amy Carroll said Thursday. Golden Valley, which has health centers in Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties, is not sure yet how many test kits it will receive for distribution to patients and community members, Carroll said.

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