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Surge in demand for COVID-19 rapid testing ahead of Thanksgiving

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Posted at 10:45 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 23:21:00-05

CLEVELAND — Out-of-stock signs greet downtown Cleveland library visitors at the door. Shelves, boxes, and drive-throughs are empty.

Rapid coronavirus tests are in rapid demand right now.

“We were going from about 50 to 100 tests per month, now we're doing 1,000 tests a month and most recently 2,500,” said Stephen Wohl with the Cleveland Public Library.

Early this year the Ohio Department of Health announced a partnership with libraries across Northeast Ohio by supplying free rapid COVID-19 tests at each branch.

Library officials said demand started slow, but just days before Thanksgiving it's a different story.

“We certainly have seen that the interest of the COVID test kits have revolved around getting together for the holidays,” said Hallie Rich with the Cuyahoga County Public Library. “We have people coming up that are requesting a large quantity of kits because they have family coming to town and they want to be able to test so they can gather safely."

It is bare-bones at the Parma-Snow Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, officials told News 5 that they just got 800 tests yesterday and shelves were empty by the end of the day.

"We know it means that people want to be safe and gather safely and responsibly," said Rich.

The demand for testing comes as COVID cases surge, more than 6,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in Ohio again Tuesday, along with more than 560 new hospitalizations in the last 24 hours, the most the state has seen in at least three weeks.

The Warrenville branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library is the lone spot that News 5 could find tests.

"When you think about it, the public library is all about access to information,” said Rich. “Through this global pandemic, there is no more urgent or important information needed than that revolving around public health."

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