‘Rapid increase’ in demand for COVID testing

If you need a COVID-19 test immediately, don’t be surprised if you have to wait in longer lines or have a more difficult time finding a testing kit at a pharmacy.

Demand is through the roof across the board for PCR testing, rapid tests and at-home kits.

“We’re seeing more and more folks wanting to get tested,” said Dr. David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department. “There’s a rapid increase in demand.”

People are getting tested because COVID-19 cases have been rising, and Christmas travelers have been getting tested before going on a trip for the holiday season.

“It’s a great idea to be tested if you’re going to be traveling or be around people with whom you are not normally around,” Goodfriend said. “Our hope is that people get tested before they go on the road and get tested when they come back.”

Lines have been longer at testing sites, and doctors’ offices have been more crowded lately.

“People may have a challenge getting an over-the-counter product at a pharmacy to do self-testing,” Goodfriend added, noting that demand may outpace supply on pharmacy shelves.

Goodfriend said that the best course of action is to research all testing options and check with your local government to see the various programs and locations that are being offered to the public.

“This is the time to really do everything we can so that we can get through this winter surge safely together,” Goodfriend said.

Goodfriend cautioned against “stocking up” on testing kits; doing so would limit supply further and make it even harder for people who need tests now.

The World Health Organization said over the weekend that the omicron variant of the COVID-19 had been detected in 89 countries, and cases involving the variant were doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in places with community transmission.

Omicron’s “substantial growth advantage” over the delta variant means it is likely to soon overtake delta as the dominant form of the virus in countries where the new variant is spreading locally.

WHO noted that omicron is spreading rapidly, even in countries with high vaccination rates or where a significant proportion of the population has recovered from COVID-19.

Conclusive data also does not exist yet on how ill omicron makes COVID-19 patients, the health agency said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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