Bay Area residents struggle to find OTC COVID test kits and testing sites

Omicron has created a situation where finding test sites that can accommodate you, or even finding do-it-yourself tests, can be a challenge, though not an impossible one. There are hit-or-miss situations folks are facing as they seek confirmation of their COVID status.

It's a simple, but unforgiving matter of supply being overwhelmed by demand. Getting a COVID test, any kind of COVID test, is not a slam dunk in line or online. 

"It was hard to find a place that was having tests," said test seeker Steven Dosremedios. 

"Went to one in Hayward, but the line was ridiculous. So I made my appointment here," said test seeker Monica. 

We met them at Oakland's Native American Health Center, where 500 people get tested each session, including some walk-ups. Though tests are administered daily except Wednesdays, assured online appointments are backed up to January 12.

 People need tests for many reasons. "I need a test because I think I might have been exposed and I felt like I had sniffles. So, to be safe, I just thought I would check so I don't give it to somebody else," said Dosremedios. 

"Oh, it's just for the holidays. I want to make sure it's OK. I spent the holidays with my family," said Monica. "I work for the Native American Health Center and I need to get tested weekly for work," said Miranda Ole.

A Tuesday noon volunteer pop up test site on a College Avenue promenade in Oakland advertised online never materialized.  It was not clear what kind of test would be administered. "I came to get a PCR test. I'm watching my grandson, a three-year-old, who tested positive with a rapid test and I also took a test and also tested positive," said test seeker Mike Bove. 

People are willing to drive long distances to get or buy tests but verification of efficacy and cost beforehand may not be possible.

Moving online, A KTVU employee successfully ordered this available six-pack of tests for $150 dollars; $25 a test, plus $40 shipping for all six. I successfully purchased a well-rated package of two tests, on Amazon which is supposed come between the 12th and 18th. We will see how that goes. 

But many online merchants do not guarantee a delivery date and may prove unreliable. Facebook "buy nothing" groups, found in almost all cities and towns, have many posts from folks looking to buy tests or learn where to buy them.

So, we are left with the four B's: buying, bartering, borrowing or begging until supply meets demand.