Sunday Read: Where are all the at-home COVID tests?

At-home COVID test kits out of stock at most stores, online

President Joe Biden wants more Americans to be tested for COVID-19 -- but at-home COVID tests are nearly impossible to find.
President Joe Biden wants more Americans to be tested for COVID-19 -- but at-home COVID tests are nearly impossible to find.

Americans are being encouraged to test for COVID-19 more often -- but how can they, when at-home test kits have all but vanished?

As part of a partnership with the Biden Administration, retailers Amazon, Kroger and Walmart will offer at-home rapid COVID tests at cost for three months, but those tests are difficult to find -- especially at locations offering them at a low rate.


Sunday Read is ClickOnDetroit’s Sunday news review to help readers catch up on the biggest stories of the week.


President Joe Biden said the government would purchase 280 million at-home tests in an effort to particularly provide school systems and federal employees easy access to instant results amid the ongoing pandemic. But after shopping around at pharmacies across Metro Detroit, at-home COVID tests were nearly nowhere to be found.

More: Biden bets on rapid COVID tests but they can be hard to find

“I went to two CVS stores and I went to a Rite Aid, and all three of those were out,” said Dave Bartkowiak, digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.

Bartkowiak wanted to get coronavirus tests for two of his young children, who are often surrounded by family and other children. When he struck out looking for at-home COVID tests in stores, he tried online -- but had no luck.

“(They were) out of stock. Amazon said ‘out of stock,’” Bartkowiak said. “But, at that point, it didn’t really help me -- I could do overnight (shipping), but really, I wanted to know that day.”

The Local 4 team was able to find some at-home tests at a CVS in Plymouth Township -- but, otherwise, struck out entirely when visiting stores and pharmacies in Canton Township, Madison Heights, Northville Township, Royal Oak and Troy.

More tests are expected to hit store shelves in the coming weeks, but that doesn’t make the situation any less frustrating for those seeking test results right now.

Related: How long after exposure to COVID can a test detect the virus? When should I get my booster shot?

Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge says that for those who feel they need at-home COVID tests, they should do whatever it takes to get them.

“Hopefully supply will increase, but in the meantime, definitely ask and see if you can put some (tests) on hold, or get notified as soon as they’re in stock,” McGeorge said.

There are other COVID testing options available, if you’re having trouble finding an at-home test kit. Be sure to contact your doctor, your local health department or even your pharmacist to see what testing options are available to you.

Our best advice: If you are intent on purchasing an at-home COVID test, shop around for supply and for the price.

One brand, BinaxNow, is selling their COVID test for $16 at Kroger, and for $14 at Walmart -- but at CVS, the retail price is $23.99.

Officials at Walmart, CVS, Kroger and Rite Aid say their companies are working with their suppliers to meet the high demand for at-home COVID tests.

“We have seen significant demand for at-home Covid-19 testing kits and are working closely with our suppliers to meet this demand and get the needed product to our customers,” Walmart officials said. “We do anticipate increased availability of the product in the coming weeks.”

“In order to serve our customers’ over-the-counter testing needs, and due to high demand, we’ve introduced product limits of (6) on cvs.com and (4) at CVS Pharmacy for the Abbott BinaxNOW, Ellume and Quidel tests,” CVS officials said. “We’re continuing to work with our suppliers to meet customer demand.”

“We are working daily to secure more kits for all stores and to balance the needs of communities across the country,” Kroger officials said. “If a store is currently out of stock, we expect them soon. Increased demand for testing varies by location and has placed varying levels of demand on supply ... We continue to work with the supply chain to find more test options for our communities.”

“As Americans return to school, work and events, we are actively supporting the increase in demand for testing with free, convenient testing at all Rite Aid locations,” said Rite Aid officials. “Like most retail chains, our at-home testing kits are currently out of stock, but we expect supply to begin catching up with demand in the coming weeks. As soon as shipments resume, at-home testing kits will also be made available at riteaid.com. We will also continue to explore new opportunities with various vendors to be prepared for future demand as needed.”

Since the Help Me Hank team began looking for at-home tests, the BinaxNow tests have become available for sale online at cvs.com, with a limit of six per person.

CVS and Rite Aid also offer free COVID testing -- CVS has testing at their pharmacy locations, and Rite Aid offers testing at all of its locations.


Related: Pfizer booster shots now available in Metro Detroit


Read more: Biden bets on rapid COVID tests but they can be hard to find


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About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.