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Rossen Reports: Use these tricks to find at-home COVID-19 tests

No matter where you live, at-home COVID-19 tests are elusive and health experts don’t expect the search to get easier any time soon.

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It’s the hardest thing to find on store shelves. No matter where you live, at-home COVID-19 tests are elusive and health experts don’t expect the search to get easier any time soon. The Biden administration is sending 500 million at-home tests to Americans for free, but that will take some time.

Watch the story above: Our team of Hearst journalists across the country went on the hunt to see what store shelves look like at their local retail pharmacy, an independent pharmacy and a nearby big-box store. Below, Rossen Reports found a few ways that could turn out to be helpful in finding at-home COVID-19 tests.

Tracking websites and apps

These websites and apps are normally used around the holidays for hot gifts, like Xboxes and PlayStations. You can track what’s in stock online or in stores near you. Now many of them are adding at-home test kits to what you can track. Zoolert and NowInStock.net will let you set alerts for your email or will text you when a product comes in stock. You can also use an app like HotStock which will alert you as a notification right on your phone.

Can't see the at-home test kits above? Click here!

Ask a pharmacist or cashier

In Jackson, Mississippi, our reporter from WAPT saw a sign at her local CVS that said there were no at-home tests available. While she was walking out, she asked the cashier who said there were about 100 tests left but they’re stashed behind the register and you need to ask. Many of our reporters found that if you ask a pharmacist or cashier, they might be able to give you the inside scoop if there are more tests that haven’t been stocked on the shelves, when the next shipment is coming in, or put you on a call list for when more become available.

Post on social media

Before you leave the house, ask your neighbors where they’re finding luck. Post on your Facebook wall or in a local, community group. We did this and got responses almost instantly. Your neighbors might be able to tell you where they found at-home test kits, which location, how long ago and how many were still left on the shelves. (Our team’s producer did this, got a response within minutes and was able to buy a couple of kits right away!)

Use Instacart or other delivery apps

You might think Instacart is only good for grocery delivery, but you’d be wrong! While under his own COVID-19 quarantine, Jeff had to try and get himself an at-home test. He used his Instacart app and found a local pharmacy that had some in-stock. Within 15 minutes, a delivery person from the app was able to run over and grab a couple of test kits for him and his family. (He did this a couple of times and was successful each time, too!)

Try the manufacturer

If you’re striking out with big retailers, try going straight to the manufacturer’s website. Companies like iHealth Labs and On/Go sell them right from their websites. In many cases, the website has faster shipping estimates than the same tests sold on Amazon.