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At-home COVID-19 tests are getting difficult to find for some

KGW spoke with people who say they've had a hard time finding at-home COVID-19 test kits online and in stores.

PORTLAND, Ore. — COVID-19 testing is generally available if you're willing to make an appointment and wait.

For people looking to get tested sooner, an at-home COVID-19 test kit may be their best bet. But it also might take a while to track one down. Cynthia Trendell knows all too well.

A few weeks ago, Trendell, her son Elijah and her mother might have been exposed to COVID.

“I immediately tried calling urgent cares. They wouldn't test us without showing symptoms for four to seven days and we had to make an appointment,” Trendell said.

That was too long for Trendell, so she called around looking for an at-home COVID test kit. She struck out everywhere except one store.

“I said, ‘can you hold them?' And she's like, well we have plenty, you know, so I don't think it's necessary for you to have to put them on hold. And I thought, okay. But I showed up and the woman said, ‘no, we're all out,’ and I'm like, ‘but I just called like 15 minutes ago,” said Trendell.

RELATED: Demand for COVID-19 tests grows, squeezing Oregon health systems struggling with shortage of staff

Credit: Cynthia Trendell
Cynthia Trendell and her son, Elijah

She said something similar happened to her best friend. They're not the only ones having a tough time finding at-home COVID-19 tests. This week Tina Kitchin began looking for one for her daughter to have, just in case.

“Every time, it's out of stock by the time I'm ready to do the pickup. So, by the time that's really there to be purchased,” Kitchin said.

When looking online, it's a bit of a toss up on which tests are available. For instance, the CVS website shows the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test is out of stock both online and in many CVS stores from Vancouver to Salem. The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test is largely sold out too. As of Friday afternoon, the QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 test kits were available to ship with a disclaimer that said due to high demand, it could be delayed. A few hours later, that was sold out online as well. It's a similar situation on other websites.

“If we can stop [COVID-19] from being transferred to any one person, it's so, so very important,” said Kitchin.

RELATED: Oregon pediatrician weighs in on COVID-19 testing for kids

“It's so frustrating too, especially as a parent and someone who works in the medical field. It's like, shouldn't these [tests] be more readily available? And why are they so damn expensive,” asked Trendell.

If you're interested in getting an at-home COVID-19 test kit, health experts have said they are generally not as accurate as a lab test you might get in a doctor's office.

The Yale Medicine website says because of decreased sensitivity in at-home kits that don't require lab processing, the FDA recommends taking multiple tests over several days to better catch asymptomatic infections.