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County libraries run out of free at-home COVID-19 rapid tests within hours

Arlington Central Library (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Within hours of offering free at-home COVID-19 rapid test kits on Friday, Arlington County libraries ran out.

All seven open library locations were offering tests — 360 tests in total, across all branches — but all were claimed by 12:10 p.m.

Demand was higher than expected, Arlington Public Library Deputy Director Anne Gable tells ARLnow, and people lined up at library doors to get the tests. The number of tests sent by the Virginia Department of Health was based on previous responses at other libraries in the Commonwealth, she notes.

Each branch received a different number of tests.

“It was proportional to the user base of the locations,” writes Gable. “Meaning, the more heavily used locations got more tests and the less used locations got fewer tests.”

More test kits are expected to be available sometime this week and staff will make sure more will be offered this time around.

Some residents were upset with the lack of tests.

Meanwhile, Fairfax County Libraries received 20,000 COVID-19 rapid tests and all branches were still stocked as of Friday afternoon.

In recent days, there’s been an ongoing national conversation about why there are so few low-cost, at-home COVID-19 tests available in the U.S., particularly in comparison to Europe.

Arlington’s director of emergency management took to social media to remind residents that if they are in need of a COVID-19 test more immediately, there are three free county testing sites open daily.

Library hours remain limited until Jan. 3, when seven out of eight branches will fully reopen for the first time in nearly two years.

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