At-home COVID tests are flying off library shelves
A new program offering at-home COVID tests at Delaware’s libraries is going better than expected.
The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) started a partnership to give out free, at-home COVID-19 test kits at all Delaware libraries at the beginning of August.
At the Dover Public Library, director Brian Sylvester says he’s seen a very positive response.
“There’s been a lot of demand,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of phone calls asking whether or not we have them because each time we get supplied we run out fairly quickly. The last couple of deliveries we got a little over 100 kits and I think the longest they lasted was a little over two days.”
Just as DPH anticipated, a lot of people are picking up a test kit to have one on hand just in case. Sylvester says having a kit ready makes it easier if you wake up with symptoms of COVID.
“It’s a nice idea because if you have a test at home and you wake up with symptoms, you can test yourself without exposing anybody,” said Sylvester. “So you don’t have to go to the doctors office and be in a waiting room full of people that are then potentially exposed. So I think people that are of a mindset where they take that into account, they’re the ones that are coming to get them.”
The kits usually cost around $20 in stores, but this program is giving them out free, and that’s in part what’s driving demand.
These kits aren’t the ones that require you to video conference with a doctor, which can take more time to conduct. The user can take the test themselves, and get results within 15 minutes.
Plus, each test kit actually contains two separate tests, so there’s less of a need to return to the library every time the kit is used.
According to DPH, over 27,000 individual test kits have been distributed to libraries so far. Libraries were all sent the same amount of kits the first couple weeks, but DPH says it’s now tailoring deliveries based on expected demand.
The department adds they’re also starting to deliver new tests daily, rather than weekly, which will help libraries keep an even supply throughout the week.
Sylvester says one thing some libraries are doing is looking to get bulk deliveries of kits. That way they can get through the backlog of people who want a test.
DPH director Dr. Karyl Rattay says that’s the goal.
“We’re gonna keep doing our best to get the tests to the libraries but people are definitely taking advantage of having access to these tests and we’re really happy about that,” Rattay said.
Sylvester advises people to call before coming to pick up a kit, since the kits aren’t coming on a regular schedule, so staff are best able to notify people if kits are available.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.