Ketchikan and Wrangell are running out of at-home COVID tests

An at-home COVID test kit. (Photo by Sage Smiley/KSTK)

At-home tests are in short supply across the country and state, including in Ketchikan and Wrangell.

Wrangell’s Emergency Operations Center says it anticipates the kits will have been exhausted by Wednesday. This comes amid Wrangell’s largest COVID case spike of the pandemic.

The EOC’s Jamie Roberts says the community only has about 75 test kits left after distributing more than 500 in recent weeks. She says the borough placed an order for another 2,000 kits.

“We submitted an order to the state resource request for additional tests,” Roberts explains, “And we were denied that order because they had no stock available.”

Roberts added that state officials haven’t said when more at-home test kits might be available.

With the number of at-home tests in Wrangell dwindling, Roberts recommended community members take advantage of walk-up testing at Wrangell’s hospital. Test turn-arounds are longer, she says, but there’s a solid supply of PCR testing materials in town.

But the walk-up testing program will end at the end of the month when the state plans to end its travel testing contracts. Tests will continue to be available by appointment at Wrangell’s hospital.

Wrangell’s EOC encourages anyone with COVID symptoms (fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, or shortness of breath) to stay home, consider getting tested at the hospital, and contact a medical professional if symptoms change or get worse.

Meanwhile, Ketchikan Fire Chief Scott Brainard says they’ve distributed just about their entire lot of 2,790 kits.

“We’ve put in a request for more home test kits for the public, and we are basically just having to wait for them to arrive,” Brainard said Tuesday by phone.

He says he’s put in an order for 864 additional kits, and state officials told him they hoped to get more shipped to Ketchikan next week.

Officials at the North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department said Tuesday they are also out of kits. The South Tongass Fire Department had just a handful as of Tuesday morning. The Ketchikan Public Library had about a dozen on hand Tuesday afternoon.

Ketchikan Public Health Center had just shy of two dozen test kits as of midday Tuesday. The lead nurse, Jen Bergen, told KRBD the clinic had ordered more but wasn’t sure when they’d be delivered.

At-home tests are available through some online retailers, and President Joe Biden recently announced that health insurance providers will reimburse four at-home COVID tests per person every month, beginning Jan. 15.

KSTK - Wrangell

KSTK is our partner station in Wrangell. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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