Some are paying hundreds, waiting hours for COVID tests

COVID-19 test kit for detecting IgM IgG antibodies and immunity.
COVID-19 test kit for detecting IgM IgG antibodies and immunity. Photo credit Getty Images

With the omicron variant causing a rise in COVID-19 cases, testing has become a significant issue once again across the U.S. In some cases, people are spending hours in line and hundreds of dollars on tests.

Almost two years since the start of the pandemic, testing is almost as big of an issue now as it was in the summer months of 2020.

And now, even though insurance is supposed to cover the cost of COVID tests, a limited supply of at-home and free test kits has forced people to go the more expensive route.

Members of one Facebook group in San Diego, the Vaccine Hunters, shared with NPR that after being exposed to COVID over the holidays, they found that at-home antigen test kits were sold out, and appointments for free tests were booked for weeks.

Needing to know whether or not they had the virus so as not to expose relatives who are at risk, members of the Facebook group spent big money to test themselves and their families.

Elisha Wright shared with NPR she spent $300 on an antigen test for her daughters, and Libertad Wright-Villanueva "bit the bullet," spending almost $350 on her son and husband's tests.

Since the holidays, testing has been a major issue as the number of omicron cases has created a huge demand.

However, there aren't enough workers to run testing sites in some places, adding to the issues around testing availability.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz opened three new community testing centers and deployed the National Guard to operate them, knowing there were no other workers able to do so.

As a response to the need for testing, the Biden administration has put together a new test ordering website, COVIDtest.gov, where Americans can order tests for free.

The website had a soft launch on Tuesday, allowing the White House to work out any kinks that may become an issue if Americans flood the system with test requests.