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“What if you don’t use them? It was a good reminder to line the boxes up in order of expiration,” said Ms. Carr, who added that at-home testing has become “a natural part of planning for our family,” and one that she foresees will continue, at least through this year.
In fact, the overabundance of tests may come in handy, as cases are on the rise in parts of Europe and Asia, and as the highly contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2 now accounts for nearly a quarter of new cases in the United States.
Dr. Michael Misialek, associate chair of pathology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Mass., said there is nothing wrong with keeping a small stockpile. Indeed, he encouraged it.
“People should definitely not get worried that, ‘Oh I have too many,’” Dr. Misialek, 53, said. “It’s not a one and done. The real accuracy is improved by doing another one a day or two later. Personally, I have 10 boxes at home.”
In the future, at-home rapid tests may well become part of the first-aid kit of the 21st century, a staple of the medicine cabinet along with Band-Aids and Advil, physicians said.
Ms. Park, whose eyes lit up when she was at Target, can well remember back eight weeks ago, when she didn’t have a single test at home, and couldn’t find one anywhere. She was still in scarcity mode, viewing the tests like a child would a bowl of lollipops.
“The first thought that ran across my head was how many can I buy? Is there a cap?” she said.
A more generous spirit prevailed, however. “For me, it’s the take what I need mentality,” Ms. Park said. “I bought two.”