Washington State At-Home Coronavirus Tests Out of Stock Shortly After Website Launch

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Less than a day after the Washington State Department of Health launched a website where residents could order free, rapid coronavirus tests to be sent to their homes, those tests were out of stock.

The state said its inventory of about 650,000 testing kits ran out by about 6 p.m. Friday.

The department advised residents to keep an eye on its social media channels and sayyescovidhometest.org to find out when more tests are available. Officials offered no estimated date for a new batch of tests, blaming "national supply chain demands."

Residents in need of at-home coronavirus tests can still order them through the federal website at CovidTests.gov or at a local pharmacy — if they're in stock.

A Saturday afternoon survey of a half-dozen local pharmacies — three in Seattle, three on the Eastside — found only one with at-home test kits available.

The rest sang familiar refrains:

"We are sold out."

"Unfortunately we're out of those."

"No."

For PCR tests, the state maintains a list of testing locations on the DOH website. Public Health — Seattle & King County also maintains a list.

State officials had indicated the at-home tests would likely go fast. "We anticipate people's initial need in the test kits will exceed our current supply pretty quickly, but our focus is sharing what we have right now," Lacy Fehrenbach, the state's deputy secretary for COVID-19 response, said Friday.

All told, the state has promised to distribute 3.5 million tests to people's homes, along with others being distributed to schools and local health districts.

With supply shortages, "it is important to note that there's often a difference between what we've ordered from our suppliers and what we receive," DOH spokesperson Shelby Anderson said Saturday. "However, it is safe to say we're seeking to receive millions of tests and are working hard to deliver them to hundreds of thousands of households across the state."

The tests were part of a program that already had distributed 800,000 tests in Eastern Washington, according to state officials. Distribution of tests through the website relies on Amazon, which receives the tests from the technology company CareEvolution, then processes and ships them to homes.

Both the federal and state websites have proved challenging for some residents living in apartment buildings, duplexes, backyard cottages and other arrangements. This week, some residents reported seeing addresses declared ineligible or getting a message on the federal website that someone from their address had already ordered tests.

When those issues arose with the federal site Tuesday, the Postal Service said they affected a "small percentage of orders" and instructed residents to contact the Postal Service help desk at 800-275-8777.