WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Harvey County Health Department (HCHD) and its partners distributed free at-home covid tests Friday at Chisholm Trail Center in Newton. The plan was to start handing them out at 5 p.m., but so many people showed up, they started early at 4 p.m.

The cars wrapped around the parking lot all the way to Broadway Street hours before the distribution even began. Jennifer Pattinson was the first person in line.

“I’ve been here since 2:30 p.m.,” said Pattinson.

“I got here an hour and 10 minutes early, and the line, it was already backed way up. So the community really needs this,” said Kathy Varney, a nurse at Newton Medical Center.

Matthew Schmidt, with Health Ministries Clinic in Newton, agreed. “You can see by the crowd here; there’s a lot of pent-up demand. These tests are really hard to find,” commented Schmidt.

As Kansas battles more covid cases than ever before, getting your hands on an at-home test is nearly impossible. 

“Well, the covid tests are hard to get, and I’ve been trying to find them and haven’t been able to find them,” said Jean Kemp of Newton.

“I have not been able to buy my own tests for about two weeks,” added Pattinson.

The Harvey County Health Department had 1,000 boxes to give away. Two boxes per car, each box containing two tests. 

“Just wanted to come and take advantage of this wonderful thing that that’s being done for the community,” continued Varney.

Jean Kemp doesn’t have any symptoms but wanted to pick up the tests before heading out on vacation. “I thought, you know, if I don’t and somebody in my family does, then it’d be nice to have on hand,” Kemp said.

Many who showed up, however, had to leave empty-handed. 

“We are absolutely there will not be enough tests for all the people who want them here today,” added Schmidt.

Albert, a Newton resident, showed up just minutes too late. “They just ran out now. Oh, well,” said Newton.

The tests were all distributed in less than 90 minutes. Schmidt said the county is expecting more shipments of at-home covid tests. He wants to reach a point where the tests become available on a daily basis, and people can just pick them up as needed.