DETROIT (WXYZ) — Demand for testing has been through the roof across the country and in metro Detroit, where many people are reporting long waits at urgent cares and limited supply of at-home testing kits at local pharmacies.
“It was incredibly difficult," Jennifer Ledbetter of Bingham Farms said. "I went to CVS, Walgreens, several urgent cares — none of them had any sort of availability.”
Ledbetter spent hours looking for a PCR test but came up empty, so she along with dozens of others turned to the Detroit Area Vaccine Hunters Facebook group.
“Michigan vaccine hunters Facebook page has been instrumental in me getting my vaccines, my boosters, my children getting their vaccines,” Ledbetter said. “They've been very helpful."
Shortly after making her post, Ledbetter was able to find an appointment for a PCR test at the same urgent care where she got her vaccine.
In recent weeks, the vaccine hunters have also become test hunters, helping people like Jennifer track down PCR tests or even finding at-home tests in stock at local pharmacies.
“A lot of the posts right now are about finding testing facilities, understanding quarantine and isolation guidelines and potentially getting help for sick relatives,” Katie Monaghan, creator of the Facebook group, said.
Monaghan says tests are hard to find. She says the best way to find PCR tests is a website called solvhealth.com.
When it comes to at-home tests, they recommend visiting pharmacy websites and calling ahead to make sure those pharmacies still have them in stock.
“At-home tests are definitely hard to come by,” Monaghan said. "You just need to be a little bit diligent and check a couple different places.”
While the at home tests are not quite as accurate as PCR, doctors say the inaccuracy is usually a false negative. False positives are extremely rare, so you shouldn't need a PCR test to confirm a positive at-home result.
“For the at-home test, it’s most accurate if you have symptoms. So if you have symptoms and it shows that you are positive, I would take that as a serious you are positive,” said Dr. Asha Shajahan, a family physician with Beaumont Health. “But if you’re asymptomatic and want to be sure, let's say you’re visiting someone who’s immunocompromised or an elderly relative, you may want to get a PCR test to be sure.”
The vaccine hunters are also asking people to buy only what is needed, hoping the tests stay on the shelves and appointments for PCR tests begin to open up.
“It's definitely more difficult than it has been in the past,” Ledbetter said. “There’s just nothing to be had out there.”