MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Americans are being encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 before gathering with family and friends this holiday, meaning there could be a run on some of those home tests you can buy at your local store.

On Tuesday, President Biden announced plans to fight the fast spreading Omicron variant, announcing 500 million free, at-home COVID-19 tests will be given to Americans who request one online. But the tests aren’t slated to arrive until next month after the Christmas holiday.

The announcement comes as Americans are already scooping up at-home rapid test kits from store shelves.

Dr. Shailesh Patel, Chief Medical Officer with Methodist-Olive Branch, warns that some rapid home tests are not always valid and urges people to avoid overloading emergency rooms for a COVID test.

“As always some of these rapid home tests are not 100% valid,” Dr. Patel said. “If you’re having symptoms, if you’re unsure to get tested. If you’re testing yourself at home and it comes back negative and you still feel like you’re having symptoms of COVID, the fever, the shortness of breath, the cough, the runny nose, I would recommend you go to an urgent care center to get tested or contact your primary care provider to see if they offer any testing in the office.”

Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson with Walgreens acknowledged the significant demand for at-home rapid tests by putting into effect a four-item purchase limit on the product. At CVS, they’ve added a limit of six test kits per purchase.

But stores limiting purchases are one thing. Dr. Patel said there’s still plenty of supplies.

“The urgent cares, the primary care providers, they should have plenty of supplies to get patients tested when appropriate,” he said.

WREG also reached out to Walmart about its capacity and we’re waiting to hear back.