YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Hundreds lined the parking lot of the Eugenia Atkinson Center in Youngstown early Wednesday to pick up free COVID home-testing kits.
With news stories across the country telling of kits being in short supply and Christmas just days away, people came from all around hoping to get theirs. One woman who waited about 45 minutes for her kits said she had COVID last year.
“And it was hard for me to get out to get tested so this is very important that I could do it at home just in case,” Kathryn Jennings said.
Others were getting tests for loved ones.
“I mean I’m really getting it for my mother because she’s battling breast cancer and she says she has a little sniffle so I’m trying to look out for her,” Mike said.
“This is a good deal, so get up a little early and get your test and we’re ready for Christmas Day. My mother is 96 and we’re worried about her,” John Murray said.
The city’s health department had roughly 3,000 of the kits available, along with bottles and jugs of hand sanitizer. There were so many people waiting in line, staffers had to start the giveaway 45 minutes early.
“We started at 8:30, people are lining up at like 7:15 a.m., so it just, within an hour of the time we’re supposed to, they’re all gone,” said Erin Bishop with the city health department.
While over-the-counter home test kits may be harder and harder to find, other pharmacies and medical equipment businesses such as Boardman Medical Supply are offering in-store testing.
For $40, customers get both a rapid test as well as a PCR version.
“It’s just off the charts, it’s going crazy. Everybody wants to make sure they keep their family and loved ones safe and people are traveling so we just want to keep everyone safe,” said Robin Ivany with Boardman Medical Supply.
The city will hold another test kit giveaway next Wednesday at the Covelli Centre. Tests are also available at Mercy Health, but administrators are asking that you avoid going to the hospital to get one.
Like many of the hospital systems in Northeast Ohio, all eight of Mercy’s walk-in care centers are offering testing without having to make an appointment ahead of time.
The system’s chief clinical officer said local emergency departments — which are already very busy these days handling patients — should be avoided as a testing location.
“If you go to emergency rooms for things that aren’t emergencies such as just getting tested, there’s going to be a long wait time and also delays care for those that really do have medical illnesses and COVID illnesses,” said Dr. James Kravec.
Dr. Kravec said testing materials are just as subject to supply-chain issues as anything else — and availability could change from day to day.