It’s the hot commodity stores can’t keep on shelves — at-home COVID-19 tests.
In Nashville, CVS, Walgreens and other retailers have empty shelves where at-home test kits should sit. When new shipments of tests arrive in stores, they are often sold out within the hour, said a pharmacist at the Publix 8th Avenue location. Online orders and clinic appointments take weeks to get.
But as the on-campus population begins to return to Belmont on Saturday and Sunday, Health Services Director Krystal Heusmann said the university is well stocked to serve students who want tests.
“I am really happy to let the Belmont community know that we do still have an adequate number of tests, particularly the rapid antigen test,” said Krystal Huesmann.
“With the transmissibility of the omicron variant and the number of cases, even though they’re very mild cases, people still do want to get tests and it is still good for them to get tested to know whether or not they have COVID,” said Huesmann.
Testing is available on campus at the Gabhart clinic by appointment only.
The Belmont pharmacy is also stocked with a “huge supply” of free Everlywell PCR tests, said Heusmann — the kind of collection kits that are sent away for lab testing. The kit comes with a prepaid shipping label and results are typically available within 48 to 72 hours.
“They are meant to be for people who are not sick, but just for these kinds of things where they want to just test and make sure that they’re OK,” said Huesmann.
Students also have other testing options off campus.
TDS Labs on 22nd Avenue offers free PCR tests with no appointment required. It is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and provides same-day results for tests taken before 12 p.m.
Also on 22nd Avenue, Sameday Health also provides free PCR tests, though patients need to book an appointment online.
For drive-through options, the Nashville Office of Emergency Management oversees two free testing sites at 2491 Murfreesboro Pike and 350 28th Avenue North, which operate weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
PCR testing is covered by most insurers and by the March 2020 CARES Act.
As of Saturday, the federal government also requires private health plans to cover the cost of up to eight at-home tests a month.
Belmont’s Health Services encourages students to get tested before returning to campus, but if finding a test at home seems impossible, students should reach out to Health Services before they get to Belmont, Huesmann said. For the duration of the semester, students who test positive for COVID-19 through any off-campus or at-home test must self-report to Health Services.
But in order to slow the test kits flying off clinic shelves, Belmont encourages students to get vaccinated and can do so by scheduling an appointment at the McWorter clinic.
From tests to vaccines, “we are still able to meet the needs of our campus,” said Huesmann.
This article was written by Chloe Collins and Sarah Maninger.