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Arkansas pharmacies see uptick in at-home COVID-19 tests

Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases, families were not asked to cancel Thanksgiving celebrations this year due to the success of vaccines.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Health officials said fully vaccinated families should feel comfortable getting together this holiday season with a few protective measures.

People at high risk are still urged to mask up and keep their homes well-ventilated.

One more tool could add reassurance as Arkansans head to the dinner table Thursday. That tool is testing.

Some central Arkansas pharmacies are seeing increased sales of at-home rapid test kits.

Richie Patel is packing her bags and going to India to be with her family.

That's something she said she couldn't do last year.

"I miss my family a lot. So this time, I decided to go back to my country," Patel said. 

Before she heads to the airport, she said she needed to make sure she isn't contributing to the spread of the vicious virus, so she got a COVID test. 

"It's important. I don't want my family to be sick because some of them are older than 50," Patel said. 

Like Patel, millions of Americans are expected to be at home and face-to-face on Thanksgiving Day. 

Jenny Wells with the Pharmacy at Wellington said as a result of that, they have seen an uptick in people looking to self-test.

"We are selling a lot more at home COVID tests. It's a great, convenient, quick way to screen before your Thanksgiving dinner," Wells said.

She adds that the at-home tests are not 100% accurate and if you have serious symptoms, you may need to get checked out professionally.

"If you have two negative tests in a row, and you know for a fact that you've been exposed or you are very sick, it would be very good to follow up with either an antigen or a PCR tests," Wells said.

Anne Pace is the owner of Kavanaugh Pharmacy and she said it might be too late for a rapid antigen or PCR test in time for Thanksgiving.

"If you're concerned about it, make sure to wear a mask, stay a little bit away from maybe older, high risk family members," Pace said.

If you do buy a do-it-yourself test, she adds that it's important to carefully follow the instructions to get a good answer.

"If people aren't swabbing their nose appropriately, getting far enough back in the nostril to make sure that they are getting any possible virus that is there, and it's not going to be very effective," Pace said.

These at-home tests cost as low as $20 for a pack of two.

You can get them at your local pharmacy and results usually take about 15 minutes.

If you want a free test, you can get that done at your county health unit.