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What to know: Covid-19 testing options limited before Christmas

at home covid tests
Posted at 5:48 PM, Dec 23, 2021

MILWAUKEE — This holiday season COVID tests are in high demand as people get ready to travel and see friends and family, but many may find getting one done in time for Christmas is a challenge.

Due to holiday hours, several testing sites, including the city-run locations in Milwaukee, are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Some sites say they are out of supplies and unable to perform COVID tests.

At-home COVID-19 tests are tough to track down. Major stores including Walgreens, CVS, and Meijer show they're out of stock online. Finding the tests in-store is hit or miss.

Summit Clinical Labs, which promises results in 24 hours or less, has limited hours for walk-in testing on Christmas Eve. They have sites in counties including Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Winnebago, Dane, and Rock.

Normally, Hayat Pharmacy has limited hours on the holidays but because of the testing demand, they will keep their regular hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

"Because corona works 365 days a year we’re gonna work 365 days a year," said Dr. Hashim Zaibak, CEO of Hayat Pharmacy.

Dr. Zaibak said since they first learned about the omicron variant, their team has been busy preparing for a spike in testing by hiring staff, moving employees, and stocking up on at-home COVID tests.

You can get tested at their two Milwaukee locations on Layton Avenue or North Avenue. Dr. Zaibak noted making an appointment online gets you through the line quicker, roughly 15 minutes, than just showing up which can take about 30 minutes.

"The line is long at the same time we have a lot of people working on it so it’s moving fast. It’s like a Great America line," Dr. Zaibak said.

The PCR test is considered the "gold standard" and it is free, but if you cannot wait a day for results, you will have to pay.

"At the end of the day, holiday gatherings include children, adults, older people. We just wanna make sure we take care of everyone," Dr. Zaibak said.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services offers free at-home collection kits to test for COVID, but it is unclear how long it takes to arrive and process.

Since testing site hours and the availability of at-home COVID tests vary so much your best bet is to check with a particular location either online or directly by phone.

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