The massive demand for at-home COVID-19 tests has major retailers like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart limiting the number of these products that people can buy.
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant before the holidays has sparked a surge in requests, and some stores across the country have faced shortages of test kits, according to CNN.
“To ensure equitable access to tests both in store and digitally, we’ve added a limit of six test kits per purchase,” CVS said in a statement on Tuesday.
“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,” the company said.
Walgreens also announced Tuesday that it would limit in-store and online purchases of at-home tests due to a surge in demand. Customers can buy four test kits per purchase.
“As the nation experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases coinciding with the holidays, we are seeing unprecedented demand for related testing and vaccine services and products,” the company said in a statement.
Walmart also announced Tuesday that demand for at-home COVID-19 testing kits was “extremely high” and that it had set a limit of eight test kits per online order, according to Reuters. Physical stores can set their own limits based on inventory levels.
“We do have strong inventory levels nationally in store,” the company said in a statement. “However, inventory is more limited online depending on the ZIP code.”
The news comes as President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that his administration would purchase 500 million at-home rapid tests, which Americans can order online for free and receive through the mail starting in January.
The president also said new testing sites would be opened in areas with high demand, such as New York City, where people have waited in line for hours to get tested.
Biden said that vaccinated people should keep their holiday plans but urged unvaccinated people to get a shot.
“Omicron is serious and perhaps deadly business for unvaccinated people,” he said. “Some of you will get very sick.”
CNN: “CVS and Walgreens to limit the number of at-home Covid tests you can buy after surge in demand.”
Walgreens: “Walgreens Statement on COVID-19 Surge,” Dec. 21, 2021.
Reuters: “Walmart, U.S. pharmacy chains cap COVID-19 test sales amid Omicron surge.”