PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) – A year ago, scheduling a COVID test was nearly impossible. Now you can get an at-home test.

But the demand is getting so big for the over-the-counter tests, that big pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens are limiting the number of tests people can buy. 

Tuesday, Walgreens imposed a four-item limit and CVS will only sell you five.

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News 13 reached out to both companies for an interview on the subject and they provided us with these statements.

CVS: 

We continue to work around the clock to provide our stores with inventory of the five over-the-counter at-home COVID-19 tests we offer: Abbott Binaxnow, Acon Flowflex, Quidel Quickvue, Ellume, and Pixel by Labcorp. To ensure equitable access to tests both in-store and digitally, we’ve added a limit of six test kits per purchase. Due to a recent surge in demand, and to retain community-based access to tests in our stores, there may be temporary out-of-stocks for these products on CVS.com. We’re committed to providing families with protection and peace of mind during the holiday season, and we continue to offer access to lab-based testing with results available in 1-2 days or rapid COVID-19 testing at more than 4,800 CVS pharmacy locations.

Walgreens:

As the nation experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases coinciding with the holidays, we are seeing unprecedented demand for testing services. Availability for COVID-19 testing appointments fluctuates daily and is limited in many areas of the country leading up to the holidays. We anticipate appointment availability will continue to rapidly evolve and encourage customers to visit Walgreens.com/covid19testing to determine availability and schedule their appointment. 

Additionally, we have been working closely with our lab partners to expand testing capacity while minimizing turnaround times for test results. We anticipate a 24 to 48 hour turnaround time for COVID-19 test results.   

Due to the incredible demand for at-home rapid testing, we put in effect a four-item purchase limit on at-home COVID-19 testing products in our stores and digital properties in an effort to help improve inventory while we continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands. We refer you to manufacturers for questions on supply of individual products. 

RX Express in Panama City says they have had these over-the-counter tests in stock since the summer. Pharmacist Lauren Parker said purchases just recently started to pick up. She said they sell about 10 to 20 a day. 

“With the demand, it’s really hard to keep them,” Parker said. “We are doing everything we can to keep them in stock for everybody and make sure that they are available.”

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Parker said right now they have plenty in stock, but they are limited for future orders. 

She believes this rush has a lot to do with holiday travel.

But because of how convenient they are, this might become the new norm. 

“I think it is a good thing for people for the holidays wanting to make sure that they are tested before they go see family,” Parker said. “So it is definitely a good thing and the at-home tests are much more convenient and they are much more accessible than going to see a provider.”

She said they are simple to use. All you have to do is stick the swab in a dilution, then nasal swab yourself low in the nose, then you wait about 15 minutes for your results. 

Parker said positive results are very accurate, but if you get a negative result and you have symptoms you may want to call your regular doctor. 

Parker said booster shots have also been in high demand this week. 

She said she has given out around 20 a day.