NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — More Arkansans are getting COVID-19 tests ahead of the holiday season and the spread of the Omicron variant.
Rapid at-home tests are especially in demand right now. Most CVS locations in Northwest Arkansas do not have at-home tests in stock currently. Governor Asa Hutchinson said he is working with the health department to bolster the supply.
“We do need to expand the availability of rapid tests which you can do in your home,” Hutchinson said.
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that his administration plans to send out 500 million at-home tests to help with the current lack of supply.
“There’s supply chain issues with the acquisition of sufficient quantities of those at-home tests, its a problem and we have the cost issue as well,” Hutchinson said.
Dr. Jose Romero, secretary of health, said rapid tests are reliable when detecting the virus.
However, detecting whether a case is from the Omicron variant is more difficult. State epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, said currently Arkansas is not able to sequence tests for the variant. Arkansas has to send them to labs in another states, which make it take longer to detect the variant.
“We have purchased machinery, the equipment and supplies so we’re in the process, Dillaha said. “It’s very labor intensive and of course takes time to make sure that everything is properly validated.”
The Arkansas Department of Health expects to do its own sequencing in the new year.