As distribution of free at-home COVID-19 tests started Wednesday around the region, it became apparent quickly that the supply would not be able to keep up with the demand.

The Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library began its distribution using an appointment system, with individuals allowed to receive one box, containing two tests, per day, and families up to three boxes per day.

Brandi Hodges, public relations manger for the library, said they received several cases of tests, all of which were distributed on the first day.

“We have been so busy,” she said. “We had a line wrapped around the building.”

On Thursday, the Jonesboro library was restocked and had moved away from scheduling appointments.

“Due to the overwhelming demand for the tests, we made the decision to switch to a first-come, first-served basis to make it easier on the public and our staff members,” Hodges said.

According to a press release, the library will receive tests in waves from the local health unit and will post updates on their social media pages when tests are available.

When the library has tests, distribution will take place from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1-5 p.m. or until the tests run out.

“Pickup is taking place along Haven Street in front of the bookmobile garage,” Hodges said. “You must stay in your vehicle and wear a mask to pick up a test. Tests will not be given out inside of the library.”

In Lawrence County, the health unit is distributing tests with assistance from the library, as well as the cities of Hoxie and Walnut Ridge.

Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp said the response has been unbelievable, but the distribution has gone smooth and those receiving the tests have been grateful.

“We’ve gone through 450 test kits, which is the equivalent of 900 tests,” he said. “They came in three different sessions over two days. All 900 tests were given out in a total of about three to four hours tops, probably three hours.”

The tests, which are being funded through the state’s COVID response budget, are being distributed through a number of sites, including the public libraries in Jonesboro, Paragould, Lake City, Trumann, Lepanto, Marked Tree, Harrisburg, Walnut Ridge, Weiner and Pocahontas. Mission Outreach in Paragould and the Hispanic Center in Jonesboro are also distributing the tests.

Instructions on how to use and read the test results are included in the box. The Arkansas Department of Health advises everyone to report their home results. This can be done by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-803-7847.

Those who are feeling sick are advised to visit a doctor for testing rather than using the at-home tests being distributed.

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