BOISE, Idaho — Many pharmacies and clinics in the Gem State are experiencing a shortage of rapid COVID-19 tests.
“For people looking for the rapid at-home tests, the BinaxNOW and some of those other ones we have been getting from pharmacy shelves, those are in short supply in Idaho just like they are elsewhere,” Idaho’s state epidemiologist. Dr. Christine Hahn said.
The COVID-19 testing clinic at Boise State University is one of those facilities experiencing a low supply of rapid tests. According to the clinical program director, Stephanie Hudon, rapid COVID-19 tests are back-ordered four-to-six weeks.
“We have had a really big increase in testing demand over the holiday season," Hudon said. "I think we have had a lot more people with symptoms and with those rapid not being available on the shelves, we are having a lot more people coming in person to test."
According to Hudon, the clinic saw one-to-two positive COVID-19 cases per every 93rd sample before the holiday break. As of Wednesday, they are seeing 20 positives per sample. Hudon added there is a high demand for tests, which could lead to longer wait times.
“As rapid tests become less available, the turnaround times at all the labs in the valley could potentially be a lot longer,” Hudon said.
According to Executive Medical Director for the Saint Alphonsus Medical Group, Dr. Hansel Ashby, the demand for COVID testing has sharply increased around the holidays, but resources are still available.
“Currently though we certainly have the capacity to test those individuals who would like to be tested,” Ashby said.
However, Saint Alphonsus will only provide rapid tests or PCR tests to patients who display symptoms of COVID-19.
While some experts predict the demand for testing will go down after the holidays, others worry that along with many other states, Idaho too is on the upslope of another COVID surge.
“Myself and colleagues are just kind of waiting for a bit of a storm to hit us, as we look at what's happening in New York as an example, we know that it will unfortunately likely be here,” Ashby said. “We tend to be a little behind national trends so sadly I think that, this is what we are looking forwards to.”
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