SAN DIEGO – As the omicron COVID-19 variant sweeps the country, home testing is in high demand as the holidays approach.

Retail giants Walgreens and CVS announced Tuesday that they are placing purchase limits on in-home COVID-19 testing products in its stores and online. The efforts are largely a measure to improve inventory, as retailers report “extremely high demand” for home testing.

Chula Vista resident Ariana Chadwick said she visited three different Walgreens stores in South Bay on Tuesday before she could find a test available at CVS in Southcrest.

“I bought it for $ 9 and bought it for my mom so she could test,” Chadwick said.

CVS told FOX 5 that the chain is limiting each purchase to six tests due to a recent surge in demand.

In a bid to deal with the burgeoning variant, President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced 500 million free rapid tests for Americans. His administration also plans to step up support to hospitals while emphasizing the need for vaccinations and boosters.

Illumina’s chief medical officer Dr Phil Febbo said take-home testing is a great way to try and keep omicron away from holiday gatherings.

“Do it right before you go,” Febbo said. “Do it in the driveway before you leave your car, before you enter the house, because omicron can turn on so quickly.” This is important if you are going to be doing any testing to make the gathering (safe), do so just before the meeting.

But if you’re showing symptoms, Febbo recommends staying home and getting a diagnostic test at a county or medical site.

“PCR diagnostic tests are more sensitive, which means they can detect the virus when there are very few copies of the virus in a person’s body in the secretions selected for this test,” a- he declared.

He said it’s also a good idea to get tested again in a few days if you test negative the first time with symptoms.

Click or tap here to view the free COVID-19 test sites in San Diego County.

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