At-home rapid COVID tests in short supply as FLX region hits highest positivity rate in NYS

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you’re having trouble finding a rapid at-home COVID test, you’re not alone.

The Finger Lakes’ positivity rate is now the highest in New York State which means the demand is up.

“Vaccine effectiveness for preventing infections is beginning to wane so, we’re seeing the justification behind the boosters,” said Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza, “we anticipate very soon seeing the boosters being more widely available for more people in our population so, I think that’s what we’re seeing right now.”

As for whether vaccinated people should be concerned with the positivity rate or if it was predicted with cooler weather, Dr. Mendoza says, “COVID will become endemic, we don’t see any future in the near future where we eradicate COVID-19 so, the numbers do matter… if you’re positive you need to isolate and that takes you out of the workforce, it takes you out of school or class and it’s a disruption to your life, thankfully most people don’t get very sick from COVID but we still know that some people do. And we do know that the hospitalization numbers are increasing, it’s not increasing as quickly as it was this time last year but our numbers in the hospital now are greater than this week of 2020.”

The prevalence of the virus has many people choosing to do rapid-testing at home, at least initially.

“We’re seeing a greater amount of testing, just this morning my team told me that they’re seeing more home testing that’s being reported and positives that are being reported through home testing which is good from the standpoint of at least knowing about what’s going on in our community,” Dr. Mendoza told News10NBC.

But many people report having trouble finding the actual tests. News10NBC visited five different pharmacies in Monroe County on Tuesday and found only one had the tests available. The pharmacy that did have them in supply was charging $10 more per kit than other retailers.

Testing kits are in short supply in Ontario County too.

“We would like to do more of the simple tests but we don’t have those supplies in,” says Ontario County Health Director Mary Beer, “we’d like to be able to use some of the Binax kits but those are on backorder,” she added.

The increase in demand, coupled with an increase in materials and kits needed for school testing has led to supply issues.

“We are working on trying to get more access to at-home rapid test kits for the community and you’ll be hearing more about that in the coming week,” Dr. Mendoza said.