4-staters could see fewer COVID-19 home tests on the shelves

Webb City, Mo. – Until very recently, people looking for at-home COVID-19 testing kits could go to Stone’s Corner Pharmacy in Webb City.

“We have had them up until last week even. But right now it doesn’t appear to be available,” says Chad Isaacs, Owner of Stone’s Corner Pharmacy.

Self-administered rapid COVID-19 testing kits have been on store shelves for a few months. But now, as the delta variant moves through people throughout the country and testing requirements at airports and colleges increase, they are getting harder to find on store shelves.

In an article by The Wall Street Journal, Abbott Laboratories, the company that makes the popular BinaxNOW testing kit, says it expects supplies of its at-home test to be limited for a few weeks, as it hires more workers and reboots factories that slowed down production in the summer.

“We even searched online at some places that we wouldn’t typically use,” says Isaacs.

What customers can find in stores and pharmacies in the Joplin area differs quite a bit, with some stores like Walgreens in Webb City having several testing kits, but the Walmart in Carthage being completely out.

One upside to the increase in demand though is that people are testing for COVID-19.

“I think it shows that people are interested in knowing, you know, whether they’re positive or not. Which is obviously a good thing,” says Crawford County Health Department Director Teddi Van Kam.

But, there are a few things that Van Kam would like residents to keep in mind if they chose to use an at-home kit, especially if that test comes back positive. The first of which is to follow up with your doctor.

“Especially if they are having symptoms, they may want to get treatment… they may need to get treatment. The monoclonal antibody treatment ’cause that’s been such a benefit to people,” says Van Kam. “I think that’s something extremely important for them to think about.”

She also says that if a result comes back positive, you should follow up with your local health department or healthcare provider to get a PCR test. There are a few reasons for that. First, some places that ask for proof of a negative test may not accept some of the at-home tests that are available. Van Kam recommends asking if at-home tests are accepted as proof before purchasing a testing kit.

Second, at least in Kansas, the state doesn’t recognize results from a positive home test as proof of the previous infection. What that means is, if you used a home test to detect your first infection and didn’t follow up… and then were a close contact again, you would not be able to undergo a modified quarantine period.

“Once you have the disease, that’s how the health department would look at it. We treat them the same way as if they were fully vaccinated,” says Van Kam.

She also says that tests performed by healthcare providers in Kansas are still free. Access Family Care in Joplin also offers rapid testing, which is covered by insurance.