As concerns increase over the omicron variant of COVID-19, at-home testing kits are nearly impossible to find in stores across Columbia.
But residents have options for testing either at home or in a clinical setting.
While Kilgore's Medical Pharmacy at 700 N. Providence did have some testing kits last Thursday morning, they were going fast, an employee said. The other Kilgore's location at Chapel Hill Road was out of stock.
Flow's Pharmacy at 1506 E. Broadway had hoped to have test kits in Thursday, but there have been shipping delays, said an employee. They recommended customers call in the morning and afternoon to check stock status so that people do not waste a trip. The Flow's location on Keene Street did not have test kits in stock.
A recorded message when calling D&H Drugstore Thursday morning said both locations were out of at-home test kits. A small number of kits were available Thursday afternoon, though, at the pharmacy's Paris Road location.
The Walgreens on Broadway also had a recorded message noting customers should check online for availability of at-home kits.
Boone County COVID-19 vaccine tracker: 59% of people fully vaccinated
So where can a person get an at-home testing kit? The answer: through the state.
Residents can order a testing kit through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website, where you can watch an overview video and listen to detailed instructions in English or Spanish. For those still having difficulty ordering, a support hotline is available by calling 626-434-3596.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has an information page available for those who self-test.
COVID-19 clinical testing available; MU Health limits who can be tested at clinic
Walk-in testing is available for those experiencing symptoms 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., seven days a week, through University of Missouri Health Care at its clinic at 2003 W. Broadway, Suite 100.
Last patients are accepted at 12:15 p.m., but depending on patient volume, the cutoff may start earlier.
The clinic previously offered testing to everyone, but limited who could get tested there Thursday "until further notice" due to a high volume of people seeking tests.
"Our COVID-19 test collection site ... is averaging more than 300 people per day seeking testing, compared to 100 a day just three weeks ago," MU Health Care stated in a news release. "Approximately 60% of visitors are not experiencing symptoms and are seeking a test result for travel or similar purposes."
As of Thursday morning, slightly more than 233,000 people were tested for COVID-19 in the 25-county MU Health service area. Of those, nearly 24,000 tested positive for COVID-19, or about 10% of patients.
When visiting the walk-in clinic, patients should wear a face covering and bring an insurance card if insured. Testing costs are billed to a patient's insurance. Those who have no insurance are not charged. Only the person with an appointment or seeking a test should enter the clinic facility.
Results generally are available after 48 hours. Those who test positive are called; for those who test negative, results are posted to the MU Health Care HealthConnect portal.
MU Health Care doctor: COVID-19 omicron variant being 'watched very closely'
The Missouri Health and Senior Services Department also has resources for those seeking a COVID-19 test.
The state health department has drive-thru testing events scheduled 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 9 and 23 at the American Legion Post No. 1423 parking lot at Tanner Bridge Road in Jefferson City. Winter weather may affect these testing dates, so it is recommended to call 417-362-6398 to check cancellation status.
All three Hy-Vee locations in Columbia offer COVID-19 tests. Appointments and pre-screenings are required.
Clinics such as Columbia Urgent Care on North Providence Road and the NextCare Urgent Care locations on Stadium and Nifong boulevards are offering testing. It is recommended to call prior for a pre-screening. Both NextCare locations have rapid testing available.
Residents also can be tested directly by diagnostic labs, such as Quest Diagnostics on Keene Street or Broadway Bluffs Drive. Appointments and pre-screenings are required.
GS Labs on Broadway Bluffs Drive requires an appointment for its drive-thru testing, according to Castlight Health. Rapid testing is available.
GeneTrait Laboratories on Portland Street has drive-thru or walk-up options available. No appointment or doctor's order is needed.
It is recommended to call any of these options beforehand to verify services are offered.
Push for vaccinations continues
Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services continues to encourage residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, department spokesperson Sara Humm wrote in an email.
The health department does not offer COVID-19 testing, but recommends contacting clinics or pharmacies, she wrote.
The department will start its next round of school-based vaccination clinics this week.
The number of positive cases of COVID-19 is on the rise when compared to this past fall but "not anywhere near the number of positive cases we saw last fall and winter," Humm wrote.
The Tribune's Gabriela Velasquez contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: How to get a COVID-19 test in Columbia amid at-home kit shortage