“No testing kits,” the sign at the Westgate Rite Aid read the January morning Bonnie Billups came looking. Billups, executive director of Peace Neighborhood Center, then headed to the CVS on W. Stadium in search of at-home Covid test kits–only to find himself staring at a similar sign.
He wasn’t the only Ann Arborite driving from pharmacy to pharmacy, looking for one that hadn’t sold out. Many residents have been on the same scavenger hunt. “We succeeded recently at the CVS on Plymouth Road and Huron Parkway,” one person helpfully posted on the Ann Arbor Townies Facebook group.
While many people prefer the kit’s convenience, privacy, and immediate results, they’re less accurate than professional PCR tests, especially with Omicron. To keep up with demand, Ann Arbor-based LynxDx added another drive-through test site, in the Roundtree Place shopping center in Ypsi. Though the company was processing close to 9,000 tests a week as the Observer went to press, next-day appointments were available there.
The Biden administration recently required private insurance companies to cover the costs of at-home tests and launched a website, covidtests.gov, to take online orders, with shipping promised in seven to twelve days.
Whether that rollout will be smooth or timely remains to be seen, but Billups says the initiatives should make it easier for Peace families to get kits. Though many initially took a “wait and see” attitude toward the Covid vaccines, he says alarm over the highly contagious variant has persuaded some holdouts to get the shots.
After nearly two years of muddling through the miseries and the inconveniences of the pandemic, Billups himself tested positive near Christmas. It was a mild case–he’s fully vaxxed and boosted–but the extra antibodies should help give him an edge the next time he needs to track down Covid kits.