COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Some of the most popular items at Central Ohio libraries recently have been COVID-19 at-home test kits. Statewide, the Ohio Department of Health says 246 libraries distributed more than 53,000 rapid tests in August.

“We are more than a home for books. We respond to the needs of the community. Right now, getting tested and making sure we’re all staying safe is a huge need,” said Ben Zenitsky, a spokesperson for the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML).

He explained CML began providing the at-home kits in the spring. In early summer, branches were passing out 100-200 kits per week. In August, they gave out more than 7,000 kits. By the beginning of September, they were regularly getting requests for more than 1,000 tests per day.

“These are in such high demand that we’re struggling to meet the need,” Zenitsky said, gesturing to the book-sized boxes.

2 million rapid, at-home tests were purchased at the beginning of 2021 by the Ohio Department of Health to be distributed between local health departments, schools and public libraries. Testing has been part of Ohio’s COVID-19 response plan and the initiative was a means of making it more accessible to the general public.

“We are uniquely positioned to distribute these test kits and respond to that need and also refer customers to places where they can get in-person tests,” Zenitsky said.

With demand for the kits skyrocketing, he urges customers to call ahead and verify kits are available at specific local branches. CML also asks anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms NOT to enter the library. Instead, it recommends using the curbside contactless pickup or sending someone without symptoms to pick up the kit.

Zenitsky added, “Our staff are receiving tons and tons of calls about these. So please be patient with us.”

The at-home test kits, which take 15 minutes to process and eliminate the need to send samples to a laboratory, have received emergency use authorization from the FDA. You can watch a video about how the test works by clicking on this link.

Find instructions for using the kit through CML here.

You can read more about the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s COVID-19 protocols and resources here.
And click here for testing information from the Ohio Department of Health.