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Ohio National Guard to offer free COVID-19 tests on Cleveland's East Side

Many people are searching for COVID-19 testing sites and for home rapid tests. A search on RiteAid, Walgreens, and CVS websites indicates the tests are out-of-stock at many locations and in some cases sold-out online. [Shutterstock / Damir Sencar]
Many people are searching for COVID-19 testing sites and for home rapid tests. A search on RiteAid, Walgreens, and CVS websites indicates the tests are out-of-stock at many locations and in some cases sold-out online. [ / ]

The Ohio National Guard members and the Ohio Department of Health will staff a drive-thru free COVID-19 testing site starting Tuesday morning at the W.O. Walker Building garage in University Circle, according to an Ohio Department of Health media release. 

The site will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 10524 Euclid Avenue Tuesday through Sunday, but will be closed on Saturday. 

Patients do not need an appointment, but must register onlinebefore arriving. Select Ohio and then search for the "Walker Center" location. 

The site will provide PCR tests and results will be available in two to three days. 

The testing site, supported by the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, is available to everyone and masks are required. 

The site was announced amid surging COVID-19 infection and hospitalization numbers that have driven many to incorporate testing into their holiday plans.

Demand for test seems to be outstripping supply. At-home COVID-19 antigen tests  are in short supply across the Cleveland-Akron area.

“The at-home tests, if you’ve got them, they’re great. The challenge is there aren’t enough of them," said Dr. David Margolius, the director of the division of General Internal Medicine at MetroHealth. "Unless something drastically changes in the next week, I don’t think people will be able to use that approach for the holidays if they don’t already have their stocked up, at-home tests."

A search on RiteAid, Walgreens, and CVS websites indicates the tests are out-of-stock at many locations and in some cases sold-out online as well. Although, a search of area zip codes indicated that there were still some test kits available for those willing to do an in-depth search.

The Cleveland Public Library, which has served as a distribution point for free at-home tests, received a shipment earlier today and had them available as of 4 p.m. at the drive-up window at the main library branch Downtown. The library recommends that customer call ahead because they frequently run out. 

Euclid Public Library announced on Facebook Monday around 11 a.m. that they had test kits available. By 2 p.m., all 1,000 kits were gone, according to a library staff member.  

The Cuyahoga County Health Department is receiving an increase in calls about testing, a spokesman said Monday.

“We are getting more calls to our office about testing, primarily wondering if we have kits available for the public, which we do not," wrote Kevin Brennan, a board of health spokesperson. The board of health refers people to testing options at the MetroHealth system.

Starting on Tuesday, only those being admitted to the hospital will be able to get tested in all Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth System, and St. Vincent Charity Medical Center emergency rooms, according to the ODH media release. 

If you’re unable to find an at-home test in stores, you may be able to schedule a test at a clinic, health center, or doctor’s office. Although, slots fill quickly. Some of the locations we called did not have appointments available until after the New Year.

MetroHealth will hold a  testing event in Shaker Heights on Wednesday. An appointment is required.  

The Cleveland Clinic healthcare system, allows you to search locations that offer appointments, including health centers and urgent care centers. The site includes phone numbers for each facility you can call to make an appointment.

In Cuyahoga County, testing is also available through the Cleveland Community Health Center COVID Services Collaborative, a partnership between Cuyahoga County’s six community health centers. At most locations, drive-through and walk-up testing are available, but an appointment is required.

There are two locations that allow drop-ins: Neon Health Services, 8300 Hough Ave., and Care Alliance, 2916 Central Ave. Hours are limited at a both locations. Care Alliance will accept drop-in testing requests Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Customers can drop-in for a test at Neon Health Services Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. and 1:40 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Information including hours, addresses, and phone numbers are available here.

On Sunday, the Tuscarawas County Board of Health announced it would distribute at-home test kits while supplies lasted at its Dover location and offer testing by appointment. A Monday morning attempt to confirm whether tests and appointments were still available was indicative of what the public and public health officials are facing. The home test distribution phone number rang for more than 15 minutes, but was not answered. The scheduling lines went to voicemail.

News of the shortage may make the decision to gather for the holidays more complicated and less jolly.

“If you can’t get tested and you have COVID-like symptoms, we recommend staying home until you can get a test or an appointment with a medical provider,” wrote Brennan of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. “If you are currently healthy but unsure of the vaccination status of family or friends that you are planning to see over the holidays, you may want to think twice about getting together if everyone cannot get tested.”

Stephanie is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.