Demand climbs for COVID-19 testing; at-home kits fly off shelves

Some Jacksonville-area stores had bare shelves Wednesday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With cases of COVID-19 spiking, testing is in high demand and at-home kits are in short supply at many spots in the days leading up to the new year.

At Roberts’ South Bank Pharmacy, a supplier said the store might not get another shipment of at-home tests for a month. Max McDaniel, a pharmacist there, said the kits have been flying off the shelves.

“We had them last week, actually,” he said. “They’ve gone pretty fast.”

At-home rapid COVID tests are convenient and relatively affordable -- making them a popular option.

At the Walgreens on University Boulevard and the CVS on Beach Boulevard, no tests were available Wednesday, but pharmacists did say they are hoping for shipments in a matter of days.

Don’t be deterred by empty shelves. Some pharmacy workers say they keep them behind the counter, so if you don’t see any, be sure to ask.

Panama Pharmacy in the Panama Park area tweeted about a shipment of 300 at-home tests it received Wednesday morning. At about 5 p.m., it said it still had 250 left.

There’s another option, but it’s slower.

“We are offering the free PCR tests,” explained Judy Kommareddy at Baygreen Pharmacy. “You will get the result in three to five business days.”

Some places, such as Avecina Medical, offer the rapid antigen tests covered by most insurance carriers. Others do not. A rapid PCR test, which is generally used for patients without symptoms and with travel requirements, also come with a fee.

Avecina’s website showed no more appointments available for the rest of the week in Duval County.

If you need a test ASAP, your best bet is to call your nearest pharmacy or check their website.

As we watch the number of COVID-19 cases grow across the nation, hospitalizations in the Jacksonville area are increasing but not at the same pace we saw earlier in 2021.

Notably, the Duval County Health Department sites are closed Thursday and Friday for the holiday.

At the Clanzel T. Brown Community Center in Northwest Jacksonville, there was said to be a 20-minute wait for a test. It’s not a rapid test and the results will come back in a few days.

RELATED: List: COVID-19 testing sites in Northeast Florida

Mia Jones of Agape Health, which runs the site, says they will be closed for the holiday weekend, but come the new year, they now have a contract with the city to stay open until June.

At another testing site at Cuba Hunter Park, run by the State Health Department, the lines were small.

Where we saw long lines and, at times, hourlong waits were at the drive-through sites -- one at Neptune Beach and an unadvertised site operated by the state in Regency Square.

Hospitalizations in the Jacksonville area are increasing, but not at the same pace we saw earlier in 2021.

According to Baptist Health, 65 people are being treated for COVID at its facilities. At UF Health, there were said to be 29 patients and Accession St. Vincent’s said there were 28 patients at its three hospitals.

About the Authors:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.