Shortage of at-home COVID kits sparks questions of when they will be back on shelves


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Just recently, you could go to a local pharmacy and pick up an at-home COVID-19 test kit. But now, the shelves are empty and people can’t find them anywhere, making COVID testing lines longer across the country.

When searching for COVID tests available throughout different pharmacies online and here in Greenville, all the sites have the same message: “out of stock.”

President Joe Biden announced the federal government will distribute 500 million free at-home test kits starting in January. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, people were hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer and cleaning products. Some pharmacists said people are now hoarding COVID kits.

At one pharmacy, a pharmacist said they are limiting the number of test kits a customer can purchase at one time, but they still can’t keep them in stock. Realo Drugs Manager Brain Fulcher said they didn’t see that many COVID kits sales in the fall, but now they can’t keep them on the shelves and receive phone calls regularly to see if they have them back in stock yet.

“With all of the travel and movement to go to families, and things like that, that caused a big surge. We had the opportunity to grab more, but we weren’t selling them so we didn’t. Then all of the sudden we all got cleaned out,” said Fulcher.

Fulcher said they hope to get more in next week, but centers such as long-term care facilities are going to be serviced first before they come back into the retail market.

If you need to get a COVID test before being restocked, Vidant Medical Center is one place locally that offers free testing.

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