BILLINGS — Riverstone Health announced last Thursday that they would begin giving out free at-home COVID-19 test kits starting at 11:00 a.m Monday.
By 10:30 a.m., there was already a line of cars and people waiting and by 11:15 a.m., the 800 kits in supply were completely gone.
"I expected it to be busy," said Riverstone Emergency Response Manager Greg Neill. "I had no clue that it was going to be that busy. We could have given away five times that amount."
People could pick up one test per person in their household, and many said they were picking up for multiple households.
The Binax NOW test is one of the most popular in the country — minimally invasive, just an inch into each nostril, with results in 15 minutes. Each kit contains two tests.
Annamarie Reichert got in line early because of a concern at home.
"My husband is a trucker — he goes all over the United States, so it’s worrisome," she said. "He’s been home a few days and not feeling very well."
The entire family was unvaccinated until late summer when the virus took a loved one.
"We had a COVID death in the family in August in Florida. We lost out mother-in-law, Melitta Reichert," she said. "It prompted us to get vaccinated, all of us. We were originally anti-vax."
Reichert’s kids are homeschooled.
In School District 2, a visit to their website pops up a message stating the district still plans to go to an optional masking policy on January 17.
The omicron surge could have teachers and parents looking for more tests, but like many things these days, supply is low.
"We contacted the state and ordered more, but they’re out," Neill said. "We’ll ask for as many as we can get, but there are 56 counties, all asking for the same things."
Riverstone originally planned to give out tests Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. as well, but that is now on hold with no tests in-house.
They say they will post supply updates on their Facebook page.