HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — As the Omicron variant is continuing to surge across the Wiregrass and in Alabama, the need for COVID-19 rapid at-home testing kits is increasing.

With demand higher than supply, a question on many sick people’s minds is where can they get tested for the virus.

“A lot of people have asked me how can you tell if you have a cold or if you have COVID,” M.D. at UAB Health System Vice President of Clinical Support Service, Sarah Nafziger said. “The bottom line is you really can’t tell without having a test done.”

Medical experts stress the importance of COVID-19 testing because with symptoms associated with the Omicron variant it is hard to tell between having COVID-19, or the common cold.

“It tends to be more of what we call a head cold more than a chest cold,” Dr. Nafziger said. “More sneezing, congestion, running nose.”

These common cold-like symptoms mixed with a 36.4% positivity rate are part of the reason why the need for at-home testing kits has skyrocketed. All CVS’s and Walgreens pharmacies in Dothan are completely sold out of the testing kits.

According to store associates, COVID at-home testing kits have become like gold with almost every drug store in the Wiregrass sold out of the testing kits, with no telling when they’ll have some in stock.

What do you do if you have been exposed or feeling symptoms of the virus and need a COVID-19 test? According to Corey Kirkland, Public Health Administrator for the Alabama Department of Public Health, health departments are scheduling appointments for COVID-19 testing.

“We would ask that you do not come inside the building,” Kirkland said. “We do have some signs out front that give you our number. You can just call us the clerk out front will direct you to some parking spaces we have designated, and we will come out and do the swab in the car.”

Despite being sold out of all COVID-19 at-home testing kits, people could get tested for the coronavirus both at CVS and Walgreen’s pharmacy around the Wiregrass by calling or scheduling an appointment online.

As COVID cases increase in the state hospitals around Alabama, officials are urging patients not to seek testing in emergency rooms, unless they have severe symptoms.

The CVS’s that offer COVID-19 testing in the Wiregrass have available appointments as early as Tuesday. As for testing at Walgreens, the next available appointment they have is not until Thursday.