Find at-home COVID-19 tests using these online tools

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread at a record pace across America, consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to find home self-tests like Abbott’s BinaxNow and Quidel’s QuickVue At-Home . In some major cities, people lined up outside pharmacies in December hoping to find one.

Test makers are ramping up production to meet demand, and the government has announced that 500 million free home tests will arrive soon. But that’s no relief for people who need to test now because they have symptoms of Omicron (such as fever, cough, congestion and body aches). There are, however, online tools that can help you find a test now.

Inventory tracking tools, which have been the best friend of tech enthusiasts looking for video cards and game consoles during the chip shortage, have also started tracking COVID testing. And if you’re quick enough (and lucky), it may help you get a COVID test or two.

First step: Sign up with one (or more) product availability tracker(s). The major ones include NowInStock, BrickSeek, zooLert, VisualPing, and HotStock. Each service tracks things a little differently, so it’s worth signing up for at least two or three.

Choose the most immediate form of notification possible. When the tests go on sale, they will likely be overrun, given the infection rate in your area. Some stock trackers only send emails, but others (like HotStock) will send push notifications to your phone.

Also, make sure you have accounts set up in the store(s) you are monitoring. Once the tests show up in inventory, it’s a race to get them. If you have to spend time confirming a username or password at a specific store, you’ll probably lose your chance.

Some retailers, including Walmart and Target, have their own notification system for restock alerts. It doesn’t hurt to sign up for these as well, but don’t count on them being very helpful with COVID testing.

And in some cases, it is better to keep the product availability web page open on a given availability tracker rather than waiting for an alert. ZooLert, for example, plays an audible alert when one of the products is back in stock, which could give you a leg up on other shoppers.

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Melvin G. Rodriguez