UPDATE: The government website to order free tests started accepting orders Tuesday. Learn more here.
Searching for an at-home coronavirus test? It may seem daunting, but it is possible to find testing kits in stores and online with some tools, determination and sometimes luck in the face of ongoing shortages.
Some are using the same tactics to find the tests that are being used to score the hard-to-find PS5 and Xbox Series X video game consoles: Following Twitter and social media accounts that blast when the tests are back in stock.
There are also apps and websites that alert consumers when new tests arrive.
And there's Eli Coustan, a 14-year-old from the Evanston suburb of Chicago, who has made it his mission to help people find at-home tests.
►COVID quarantine and isolation guide: What to know and what to have at home
The ninth grader said he started his website Findacovidtest.org at the end of December after seeing how difficult it was to find the at-home tests.
"I had created a site to find vaccines earlier in the pandemic and knew that I would be able to use a lot of similar technology to create something to find at-home tests you can order online and get shipped," Eli told USA TODAY, adding he started ILVaccine.org in February 2021 after he saw how hard it was for his grandparents to get appointments.
Tips to find at-home COVID tests
Your mileage may vary but here are tips to help you find at-home coronavirus tests and other items that are shortage items.
For shopping online, alerts or notifications whether from store apps or third-party sites or apps are one of the best ways to find available inventory when it restocks.
Target has in-stock alerts that you can sign up for with its app. Apps, including Hot Stock, also can send you notifications. The app is free but there’s an option to pay $5.49 to receive notifications for up to 10 products.
Eli says his site automatically updates every five to 10 minutes and site visitors can sign up for text notifications.
The site tracks coronavirus tests online inventory at Amazon, CVS, Costco, Walgreens, Walmart, Target, Sam's Club and more and you can select the brand of test you're interested in.
♦ Shopping tip: Once you get an alert, you'll need to act fast as supplies will go fast and it can take multiple attempts.
►Save better, spend better: Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here
►COVID test prices: Prices up at Walmart, Kroger as at-home rapid tests remain hard to find
Check in-store test inventory with apps and Google Shopping
Before heading to a brick-and-mortar Target, Walmart or another retailer, you can get a better idea of store inventory by checking store websites or apps. But similar to ordering online, the inventory can quickly change.
Google Shopping also allows shoppers to check in-store inventory from home. Find local stores that carry the products you are looking for from Google Shopping and select the “in stock” filter to see only the nearby stores that have it on their shelves.
Follow restock Twitter accounts for COVID test updates
According to a Vice story Thursday, several PS5 restock accounts on Twitter have started to post alerts about the coronavirus test availability.
Here are three Twitter accounts to watch for test updates:
How to get free home COVID tests with insurance
With insurance companies now covering the over-the-counter tests as of Saturday, there will be new motivation to find tests. Many will be free after insurance reimbursement.
Private health plans are required to cover the over-the-counter tests at up to $12 per test. Consumers can either get the testing kits at no cost at participating pharmacies that their plan sets up or submit receipts for reimbursement from the insurance company.
Learn more about how to get insurance reimbursement here.
Order free tests at COVIDtests.gov starting Wednesday
Americans can start ordering free COVID-19 tests starting Wednesday from the Biden administration's new website. Reimbursement isn't required and shipping is free.
The website for ordering is COVIDtests.gov and the site says "Every home in the U.S. can soon order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests."
The tests, part of the administration's purchase of 500 million tests last month to help tackle a record surge in infections, will be mailed to homes within seven to 12 days, according to an official who briefed reporters.
Contributing: Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY; Associated Press
Share what items you are having a hard time finding and how inflation is hitting your wallet on the form below. If you don't see a form, click here.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID tests: Find and buy at-home rapid tests with these tips