At-home rapid COVID tests in short supply

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With an increase in cases of COVID-19, a return to school, and many employers requiring vaccination or negative tests, there’s plenty of demand for tests.

But finding an at-home test kit if you want one immediately may be tough. Many pharmacies and stores sell out quickly.

On Tuesday afternoon, online searches turned up nothing at Target in Duluth and no tests at any Walgreens locations in Duluth or Superior. The CVS website showed some in stock at two stores. WDIO was able to get a kit at the E Superior St. location.

If you’re looking, go right to the checkout counter. The chain pharmacies seem to be keeping the at-home tests behind the counter because there is a limit on how many you can buy.

The kits contain rapid antigen tests. You do a nasal swab yourself and get results in 15-30 minutes.

"It’s also important to note that antigen tests are best when you’re symptomatic in particular," St. Louis County Public Health Educator Susan Vitulli said.

Because they are in such short supply, Vitulli wants people to use them wisely.

"If you just were exposed to someone who was confirmed COVID-positive, you don’t want to run right out and look for a rapid test," she said. "You want to wait at least 3-5 days because … the virus has to replicate if you were exposed. So it won’t do any good to just go get tested right away."

If you can’t find one to do at home, in-person antigen rapid tests can be done with an appointment at MedExpress in Cloquet or at the federal site at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

There are also PCR tests, which are the saliva version and are lab-confirmed. Those can be taken at home by requesting one be mailed to you from your state Department of Health.

To request one in Minnesota, click here. To request one in Wisconsin, click here.

For a full list of testing locations in Minnesota, click here. For sites in Wisconsin, click here.