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Pharmacies struggling to keep up with demand for at-home rapid COVID-19 tests

The White House announced this week it plans to increase the supply of the at-home tests to 200 million per month by December.

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — Demand is high for at-home rapid COVID-19 tests.

But suppliers are having trouble keeping up, leaving shelves at pharmacies bare. 

"Currently, we have four of the at-home tests. They have been very hard to come by. On Monday, I ordered the last two boxes that our wholesaler had, and there was only 12, and we only have four left."

Pharmacist Lindsey Glucksnis says there's a good chance those four remaining tests are gone by the end of the day.

Medicap Pharmacy in Olyphant is just one of many places struggling with the shortage. 

"We get at least 15 to 20 calls a day asking for rapid tests, and as of right now, we just don't have access to buy them," said Tom DePietro, owner of DePietro's Pharmacy in Dunmore.

DePietro says he started noticing an increase in the demand for tests a little more than a month ago, right as kids started heading back to school.

"Many of the places that are offering testing have such a backlog that parents don't want to wait 3 to 7 days for results."

"This, you get your results in 15 minutes, and it's a 1, 2, 3. So you can know, 'hey, I can go back to school, or I can go to work, or to my event, I'm not worried about spreading the virus to anyone,'" Glucksnis said. 

The White House announced this week it plans to buy $1 billion worth of the at-home tests, hoping to quadruple the number available by December.

"You can try to buy your way out of the problems, but it's still going to take time. It's going to take time for a company to manufacture it, put it in a box and send it to stores. Transportation right now is kind of backed up," DePietro said.

One of the downsides right now with the at-home tests is the price. The White House says it believes increasing the supply will help drive down the cost.