One thousand COVID-19 at-home testing kits were all given away within the first hour at a distribution in National City on Tuesday as the public grapples with trouble obtaining appointments and enduring long lines for tests.
Hundreds of people lined up in person and via car at the National City Public Library in hopes of obtaining an elusive testing kit at the first-come, first-serve distribution. The event began at 8 a.m. and all 1,000 kits were gone in just an hour.
“Oh my god, it’s a lifesaver," local Alicia Medina told NBC 7. "Somebody in the family is going to get (the virus). I mean, it’s sad to say but we just need to be safe and more secure with this to let us know.”
Medina said she was warned that there were no more kits available as she approached the site but lucky for her, her daughter was already in line. Many others, however, were unable to get a testing kit.
“We got here and they’re not giving any boxes right now," one man said.
Another resident said she, too, was turned away because the supplies were gone.
“I was in line in my car but I heard the police was saying, ‘you can park and go walking’ so I parked, I lost my place over there and then over here, they told me there’s no more walk-ups," she said.
As dozens received the unfortunate news that no more kits were available, one woman who was just barely able to obtain one was brought to tears at her relief.
“To have that demand, it weighs heavy on my heart," National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said. "We see omicron picking up the pace and the intensity and the demand continues to grow so we’re going to lean in on our county, state and federal representatives and our governments to say this is what we need. And if it runs out before you get to us, please know there will be other opportunities.”
Demand for testing increased after the holidays as residents returned to San Diego after time with loved ones and as students began school once again following their winter breaks.
Those who were unable to get their hands on an at-home test were urged to check county-run sites, their own doctors or their local pharmacies.
The distribution was made in partnership with San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency. National School District officials were also at the library to share more information on testing locations for students.
The distribution comes as the San Diego County Office of Education awaits home testing kits from the state as promised by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The California Department of Public Health said the state has already delivered about 3 million tests to counties and added 1 million more tests are set to be delivered Tuesday.