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At-home COVID test shortage hitting WNY stores amid rise of omicron

Brighton Eggert
Posted at 6:40 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-27 18:40:44-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — With COVID-19 spreading rapidly, more and more people are now turning to at-home tests before seeing loved ones.

However, the supply in Western New York is nowhere near enough to meet demand.

"We had tests. Unfortunately, recently, we're out of stock," Brighton Eggert owner, Don Arthur said.

The demand for at-home COVID test kits have left shelves empty at various pharmacies across Western New York.

Brighton Eggert in the Town of Tonawanda is not immune.

"Back in May, June and July, the manufacturer said 'be aware of your inventory we may have shortages because we're tooling out for packaging. We were hearing about it in May. We didn't hear too much about it during the summer, but now unfortunately omicron, there are quite a few people in need of testing," Arthur said.

The family-owned pharmacy is testing hundreds of people a day.

"Unfortunately, testing the past 7 days has increased every single day," Arthur said.

Just days before Christmas, Arthur said he saw a peak in at-home test requests. 7ABC's Pheben Kassahun did some shopping around Monday, and found the same to be the case at other pharmacies.

The Walmart in Amherst was out of stock. The same was true for the Rite Aid on Delaware Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda, the Walgreens on Sheridan Drive in the Town, and the Rite Aid on Main Street in Downtown Buffalo.

The increase in demand will lead Arthur to limits purchases once the pharmacy receives more at-home tests.

"We've learned in this last year with this pandemic, depending on what someone is looking for- in the beginning it was hand sanitizer and then masks, depending on how many we can get in, we feel it is best try and get them to as many people as possible," Arthur said.

The supply shortage is only driving prices up.

"Our cost was $7, $8 or $9 depending on the distributor, but when we saw last year with the sanitizer, and then we experienced with masks and gloves, our costs in the last three weeks has gone from $7 per at-home to almost $16," Arthur said.

New York state leaders say they're trying to help, by rolling out another wave of at-home tests that will not cost a penny, a press conference Monday.

"Pharmacies and urgent cares across the state continue to offer testing, including walk-in testing. Last week, we delivered over a million over-the-counter tests to county, local health departments in the New York City. Any county that wants additional testing sites is able to staff and supplies from the state. We've been supplying those as counties step up their work. There are 13 new sites opening this Wednesday," NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Service commissioner, Jackie Bray said. "Our over-the-counter deliveries this week will not be our last. We're going to be doing rolling deliveries every, every other week, to all of our counties; both to our school districts, to our communities to make sure that folks are prepared."