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Amazon, Walgreens and CVS limit Covid-19 tests per customer as case numbers soar

The companies cited low inventories and spiking demand, prompting rules about how many test kits each person can buy.

As the omicron variant spreads throughout the U.S. and Covid-19 cases spike ahead of Christmas, demand for at-home testing kits has risen dramatically. That prompted Amazon, Walgreens and CVS this week to limit how many tests each customer can buy.

Amazon won't let individual shoppers buy more than 10 of its at-home PCR test kits as of Wednesday, CNBC reported. A spokesperson told CNBC that Amazon is experiencing inventory shortages of some Covid tests because of increased demand.

The company is working to secure additional tests from its selling partners, the spokesperson said. An Amazon representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

Walgreens and CVS said in statements Tuesday that demand for test kits had exceeded their inventories, prompting new purchase limits.

“Due to the incredible demand for at-home rapid testing, we put in effect a four item purchase limit on at-home COVID-19 testing products in our stores and digital properties in an effort to help improve inventory,” Walgreens said.

CVS issued a similar statement: “To ensure equitable access to tests both in store and digitally, we’ve added a limit of six test kits per purchase."

CVS said that because of "a recent surge in demand, and to retain community-based access to tests in our stores, there may be temporary out-of-stocks for these products on"

It added: "We continue to offer access to lab-based testing with results available in 1-2 days or rapid COVID-19 testing at more than 4,800 CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide.”

As many people prepare for holiday travel and festive gatherings among family and friends, high demand for tests has prompted long lines outside facilities in cities like New York City and Miami.

The omicron variant overtook the delta variant as the dominant coronavirus variant in the U.S. less than three weeks after the country's first omicron infection was confirmed. As of Friday, more than 73 percent of new cases in the country had been caused by the omicron variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Tuesday, 201,680 new Covid cases were reported in the U.S., according to NBC News' tally. It was the second day in a row the total exceeded 200,000 — the first time that has happened since mid-September. That brought the country's seven-day average up to 154,813 new cases per day.