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San Diegans use social media exchanges during COVID test shortage

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Tania Thorne
A sign on the door of a CVS in Oceanside reads, "COVID-19 home tests are out of stock. We apologize for any inconvenience," Dec. 28, 2021.

Last week, Palomar Medical Supplies in Oceanside started getting daily calls asking for rapid COVID-19 tests.

Chris Valverde, who works at the store, tried to place an order to get some tests in stock.

But he ran into a problem.

“We can't get them right now, they're in short supply because they’re in high demand,” he said. “They have estimated availabilities of January and December but those are just estimated dates. They're not available dates as far as getting them right now if we were to order them.”

RELATED: San Diego Unified partners with community for door-to-door COVID education and testing

Large pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid are experiencing the same problems. Signs on doors at several pharmacies in North County on Tuesday informed customers that rapid COVID tests are out of stock.

The Rite Aid on Coast Highway in Oceanside only had one test left for sale.

“The rapid COVID tests… they’ve been unavailable. We get small little orders here and there and they’re gone within half an hour or so. We get about 50 or so requests on the phone and probably another 20 or some coming in the store,” said Adam Morisoli, a pharmacist at the Carlsbad Village Pharmacy.

Demand for rapid at-home COVID tests grows

Morisoli expects more tests this week but doesn't know for certain if they will arrive.

He hopes the government will provide some support with rapid tests to meet the demand.

“People that are actually sick and needing them, we’ve had quite a few of those, and the other people are just being kind of courteous to their family and friends before they get together, making sure that they're not active cases,” he said.

Lines at testing centers are also still very long and results are sometimes delayed.

This has some people turning to their community and Facebook groups hoping to locate a rapid COVID test.

KPBS heard from a few people who used social media to find neighbors willing to lend COVID tests, but those people were too sick to do interviews.