"No COVID TESTS" sign in parking lot of Powell Library
“No COVID TESTS” sign in parking lot of Powell Library [Jo Ingles | Statehouse News Bureau]

It’s still hard to find rapid COVID test kits at Ohio’s libraries

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Ohio continues to see some of the highest COVID case rates during this pandemic. Most of Ohio’s libraries have been without COVID tests since before Christmas, as those test kits have been in short supply.

The Ohio Library Council’s Michelle Francis said she’s unsure when libraries will get more of the at-home rapid COVID test kits.

“We continue to have conversations with the Ohio Dept of Health. It’s a work in progress but I don’t have any updates at this time,” Francis said.

Francis said Ohio’s libraries handed out more than 583,000 test kits between December 1 and December 23. Since that time, test kits have been hard to come by.

The Athens Public Library dashboard shows if branches have tests
A dashboard on the Athens County Public Library website shows if certain branches have COVID-19 tests available. This screenshot was taken at 2:38 p.m. on Jan. 7. [ | Screenshot]
There are mass testing sites with PCR tests administered by medical professionals, and Gov. Mike DeWine said there will be more of those in the future.

The federal government is ramping up efforts to make 500 million rapid tests available nationwide later this month, free of charge.

In the meantime, Ohioans who need a COVID test and can’t find one might be able to get a PCR test through pharmacies, medical clinics, health departments, and doctors’ offices.

But hospitals are telling people looking for tests to stay away from overcrowded emergency rooms unless they have symptoms that need immediate attention.

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