Arkansas pharmacies see increase in COVID testing before holidays

Some local pharmacies in Little Rock and seeing more people trying to get a rapid coronavirus test before Christmas.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Some local pharmacies in Little Rock and seeing more people trying to get a rapid test before Christmas.

“We’re doing about double the amount of testing,” Jenny Stephens said.

Jenny Stephens is a pharmacist at the Pharmacy at Wellington in Little Rock. 

She said appointments for rapid testing are booking up quickly. 

Kavanaugh Pharmacy in Little Rock has also mostly booked up rapid tests this week.

“Right now we’re doing anywhere from 60 to 80 tests a day,” Stephens said. 

“In preparation for the holidays, a lot of people are wanting to get tested ahead of seeing friends and family.”

Rapid antigen tests allow people to get results within an hour. A normal PCR test could take days to receive results. 

But Stephens is warning her patients getting a negative test does not mean you are clear to see loved ones on Christmas. A test could be inaccurate, potentially exposing your family.

“The ideal time to test after exposure is 5 to 8 days after exposure, so you could test too early. It’s possible to get a false negative but you are positive and tested too early,” she said.

Dr. Jose Romero emphasizes the importance of keeping your Christmas get together small.

“We’re seeing a lot of transmission in these small nuclear settings in homes,” he said.

Tuesday the health department announced any gathering at an indoor venue above 10 people will have to get ADH approval. It was previously 100 people.

“This does not mean that we can’t have indoor venues that’s larger than 10 people, it just simply means you have to have a good plan approved by the department of health to make sure it’s safe,” Gov. Hutchinson said.

A rapid antigen test at The Pharmacy at Wellington costs $95.