Great ResignationInflationSupply ChainsLeadership

These online tools can help you find at-home COVID-19 tests

January 4, 2022, 4:02 PM UTC

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

Test manufacturers are increasing production to satisfy demand, and the government has announced 500 million free at-home tests are coming soon. But that’s little relief to the people who need to test now as they experience Omicron symptoms (such as fever, coughing, 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 hunting for video cards and game consoles during the chip shortage, have started tracking COVID tests as well. And if you’re fast (and lucky) enough, it can help you nab one or two COVID tests.

Step one: Sign up with one (or several) product availability tracker(s). The biggest include NowInStock, BrickSeek, zooLert, VisualPing, and HotStock. Each service goes about tracking things a bit differently, so it’s worth the effort to sign up for at least two or three.

Choose the most immediate form of notification you can. When tests go on sale, they’ll likely be swarmed upon, given the infection rate in your area. Some inventory tracking tools send only emails, but others (like HotStock) will send push notifications to your phone.

Also, be sure to have accounts set up at the store(s) you’re monitoring. Once 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 likely lose your chance.

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

And in some cases, it’s better to keep the product availability web page at a given availability tracker open rather than wait for an alert. ZooLert, for instance, will sound an audio alert when one of the products comes back in stock, which could give you a jump on other shoppers.

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.