If you needed a reminder that we’re still living in the middle of a global pandemic, here’s one courtesy of CVS. On Friday, the U.S. pharmacy chain told Business Insider that the company’s supply of take-home COVID tests is so in demand that it will need to start limiting the number that customers can buy at once.
Up until now, people could buy as many tests as they wanted from the retailer, no questions asked. But from Friday onward, customers are only allowed to buy six online in one go or four at a time while shopping in-store. Gizmodo was able to confirm that while shopping for any of the at-home tests on the CVS website, the maximum number you’re allowed to add to your cart is six.
CVS hasn’t yet responded to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but the company cited “high demand” for the tests as the reason customers were being cut off. And that demand makes sense — both when you consider the businesses and schools trying to keep their own COVID numbers under control right now, and the way the pandemic is currently wreaking havoc across some states. This week, Alabama reported more than 5,500 new coronavirus cases among school-age children, while scores of unvaccinated adults across the state have been dying en masse from the disease.
Florida, meanwhile, is reporting roughly 22,500 new cases being added to its ranks per day, and more than 200 deaths. Arkansas is reporting its ICU’s are packed to capacity from the citizens coming in with cases of the Delta variant, as is Louisiana. Naturally, people around those areas are going to be on high alert — and potentially buying more tests as a result.
Increased demand aside, some of these shortages trace back to supply chain issues with the companies manufacturing these at-home tests, like the diagnostic outfits Abbott and Ellume. Bloomberg reported that customers trying to pick up each of these company’s tests — which are available prescription-free from CVS — are going to face limits on the number of units they’re allowed to take home.
An Abbott spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that it expects supplies of its at-home tests to be somewhat limited over the coming weeks while it works on hiring more workers, and rebooting factory lines that were slowed down earlier this summer. An Ellume spokesperson implied that the company was facing similar issues, telling Bloomberg that it was busy “scaling production” to meet with unprecedented demand for its tests.