After nearly two years of navigating life during a pandemic, many Texans thought the first holiday season after vaccines became widely available would be relaxing and filled with friends and relatives. But the omicron variant of COVID-19 has upended the holidays for many Texans as they’ve spent the week scrambling for COVID tests, delaying plans and worrying about relatives who have been exposed to the virus — or already tested positive for it.
The rapid rise of the omicron variant has sent Texans clamoring for a quick and easy way to get some peace of mind via a negative test result. But drug stores like CVS and Walgreens report that tests, which cost roughly between $10 and $40 dollars, have been widely out of stock or in short supply nationwide for months.
Meanwhile, demand is soaring for free testing at city- and county-run sites. While many public health officials say they have not reached testing capacity at their free, public sites even as they’ve seen demand jump, at least one local official told The Texas Tribune they had started to experience shortages.
“There’s a lot more demand for testing than there is capacity for testing,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “We made a request to the state for 5,000 additional tests and I don’t believe at this moment we’ve heard back from them yet.”
— Cassandra Pollock, Kate McGee and Mitchell Ferman