SILVER SPRING, Md. (WDVM) — Within the past few months, COVID-19 tests have turned into a commodity with long lines and emptied shelves across our area. Because of this, officials in Montgomery County are stepping up their game when it comes to making those tests readily available.

The county is planning two things: to open larger testing sites and to distribute rapid at-home test kits at public schools and libraries. Hospitalization rates have increased significantly since the spread of the new omicron variant. Self-test kits are in high demand and have been wiped off the shelves.

Officials said that 400,000 at-home COVID-19 tests should arrive sometime in the next few days. The county plans to run a rapid-test program similar to one in D.C.

Dr. Earl Stoddard of the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management said, “Our goal is to have these as frequently as possible. Make them available through methods beyond just the library system. Get them out through their community partners to people who can’t come into the library system.”

Data from the University of Maryland medical system shows that over the past month, 74% of its patients were not vaccinated.