As COVID cases climb, including break-through infections, testing will be critical to staying safe through holiday gatherings but finding a rapid at-home test can be a challenge.
On a week when millions of us are expected to gather with family and friends the rise in COVID-19 cases and rapidly spreading omicron variant has left many rethinking holiday plans.
“I think it does change things for us in terms of what we thought was safe in terms of what we think of now as safe,” said Dr. Beth Kassanoff-Piper with the Dallas County Medical Society.
Testing she says will be critical to hosting safe holiday gatherings. She urges anyone with symptoms to get tested regardless of vaccination status.
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“We are seeing a lot of people with COVID who have those mild symptoms, especially in the vaccinated people,” Dr. Kassanoff-Piper said.
While you can make appointments at pharmacies for the PCR test or the rapid test, it’s the at-home Antigen tests that are now in demand.
“The home tests are very good at telling us if someone is contagious with COVID,” Dr. Kassanoff-Piper said. “They aren’t the most sensitive test, but if a home test or the rapid Antigen test is negative then we know people don’t have enough viral particles floating around that they could be contagious to somebody else.”
The latest news from around North Texas.
NBC 5 found the leading BinaxNOW at-home test sold out at many pharmacies in Dallas County.
However, NBC 5 did find the brand available for online purchasing with two-day shipping at Walmart and Walgreens. CVS online was temporarily sold out.
Doctors say the at-home tests are best used immediately before gathering, even if you are fully vaccinated for peace of mind.
“You can feel safe at that event that you’re not potentially going to spread COVID to somebody else,” said Dr. Kassanoff-Piper. “But that window of protection is not multiple days long. It really has to be done within a few hours of an event, certainly within 24 hours.”
If you can’t find any at-home test you can still schedule a PCR or rapid test appointment at CVS or Walgreens.
Two drive-thru testing sites will remain open through Christmas Eve at Dallas College’s Richland campus and Mountain View campus. Both offer free testing with results in 48 hours.
Curative hosts several testing sites around North Texas. You can search for testing appointments by zip code.
Tarrant County offers 14 testing locations that offer a mix of walk-up or appointments.
Denton County keeps an updated list of drive-thru testing sites.