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SAN DIEGO – As the omicron COVID-19 variant sweeps across the nation, at-home tests are in high demand in the lead-up to the holidays.

Retail giants Walgreens and CVS announced Tuesday they’re placing purchase limits on at-home COVID-19 testing products in its stores and online. The efforts largely come as a measure to improve inventory as retailers are reporting an “extremely high demand” for the at-home tests.

Chula Vista resident Ariana Chadwick said she went to three different Walgreens stores Tuesday in the South Bay before she was able to find an available test at CVS in Southcrest.

“I bought it for $9 and I bought it for my mom so she can test,” Chadwick said.

CVS told FOX 5 the chain is limiting each purchase to six tests due to a recent surge in demand. 

In a bid to deal with the surging variant, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday 500 million free rapid tests for Americans. His administration also plans to bolster support for hospitals while also emphasizing the need for vaccinations and booster shots.

Dr. Phil Febbo, chief medical officer of Illumina, said take-home tests are a great way to try and keep omicron out of holiday gatherings.

“Do it right before you go,” Febbo said. “Do it in the driveway before you leave your car, before you go into the home because omicron can come on so quickly. It’s important if you are going to do testing to make gathering (safe), do it right before you get together.”

But if you have symptoms, Febbo recommends staying home and getting a diagnostic test at a county or medical site.

“Diagnostic tests with PCR are more sensitive meaning they can detect the virus when there’s very few copies of the virus in someone’s body in the secretions that are selected for that test,” he said.

He said it’s also a good idea to get tested again in a few days if you test negative the first time with symptoms.

Click or tap here to see no-cost COVID-19 testing sites in San Diego County.