Free at-home COVID tests provide options amid shortage, but it may take time

For local pharmacies, tests can still be hard to come by
Rapid COVID-19 tests
Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 20:55:16-05

DENVER — For the last several weeks, finding a rapid test inside a pharmacy hasn’t been an easy task. But Tuesday's launch of is providing options, just not so immediate for many people.

“Every day, we get multiple calls, and multiple people walking in,” said pharmacist with Wheat Ridge Professional Pharmacy, Jenna Eccles.

Eccles says her answer to people shopping for tests is simple, she shows them an empty shelf.

“I think it was two days before Christmas we ran out and we haven't had any since then,” she said.

In fact, they had placed an order for about 300 tests that were supposed to be delivered last week. Until an email came in from their supplier.

“Our pre-allocated, pre-booked tests cannot be released to us or shipped to us because the federal government is allocating all tests,” said Eccles.

Meaning, she and her customers will have to look elsewhere.

“It kind of enrages me a little bit, because I just feel like our community needs it and anytime the federal government wants to allocate it, I question where they're sending it? Who's getting what they're allocating?” said Eccles.

Many of those diverted test kits have been made available on a new White House website that allows people to order free COVID-19 test kits directly to their homes.

Visitors to on Tuesday were able to click through to a USPS website and order four free rapid antigen test kits per household. The USPS website said the kits would ship in "late January."

But if you need a more immediate option for test kits, some area pharmacies still have few in stock. Capitol Heights Pharmacy in Denver said their limited stock on hand is going fast.

“Last week, I got a couple 1,000 (tests). We're down to about a little over a few 100. So, they're going,” said pharmacist and owner of Capitol Heights Pharmacy, Kristin Holmes.

As of last weekend, people who buy a test can also seek reimbursement from their insurance provider for at least $12 per test.

“I know it's not ideal to pay $33 for a pack of two tests but at least you have them when you're sick. You can use them, and then you can talk to your insurance company about getting that money back,” said Holmes.

For many who don’t want to wait up to 12 days for their test to arrive from the federal government, it is the next best option.

“I had received a text from here that they had them available and as soon as we got back, we had been around people, and we needed to have the tests on hand. If I begin to feel symptoms I want to be able to find out instantly,” said a woman buying a test at Capitol Heights Pharmacy.

It’s also important to remember stockpiling tests at home might not be beneficial.

“Most of these tests, the expiration on them is not super long. So, if you come in here, the tests we have available right now expire at the end of March,” said Holmes.

In a statement, CDPHE says in part, “We applaud the federal government for providing free rapid over-the-counter test supplies…individuals also can order free over-the-counter antigen tests through our rapid at-home program.”