An Ottawa software developer is helping people search for RATs, creating a new online tool to find appointments for rapid antigen testing at major Ontario pharmacies.
Mike DiDomizio says that after struggling to find an appointment for a rapid antigen test himself, he wanted to help other people find testing locations immediately.
“I had seen that other people were also in the same situation as me. I was not the only one with this problem. I wanted a test and wanted one ASAP, ”DiDomizio told CTVNewsOttawa.ca.
“When I started building it, I first looked at Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall, because those are the main drugstores in town. I realized that I could get the data and manipulate it however I wanted. “
The Rapid Antigen Test Appointment Help website lists the number of appointments for a rapid antigen test that a pharmacy says is available over the next six days. On Friday, two Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Ottawa had appointments available.
DiDomizio says it took about five to six hours to build the initial site, but it has made “a lot of changes” since.
“While the website I created was not a perfect solution, being able to search over 50 Ottawa stores at a time and sort the stores by the nearest date is better to click on each one. them and find out that they are complete, ”said DiDomizio.
Demand for rapid antigen testing has skyrocketed over the holidays as COVID-19 cases increase across the province and PCR testing capacity has reached capacity in Ottawa and other parts of the province.
Residents have been lining up for hours at various locations across Ontario to receive free rapid antigenic tests from the Ontario government. The province provided all elementary and secondary students with a set of five RAT tests to take home during the holidays.
The Rapid Antigen Testing Appointment Wizard lists RAT appointments in cities across Ontario including Kingston, Belleville, Toronto, Kitchener, London, and Windsor.
DiDomizio says that once he was happy with the website listing pharmacies with available appointments in Ottawa, he realized other cities were in the same situation and wanted to help people find testing sites.
“I checked in Kingston and only one in 10 Shoppers had an appointment open that day. I knew I couldn’t just stop in Ottawa, ”said DiDomizio.
“It took a bit of work, but once the site was able to manage two cities, it took almost no additional work to manage them all. Now the site supports all major cities in Ontario.
A rapid antigen test at Shoppers Drug Mart costs $ 40, while it costs $ 30 at Rexall.
DiDomizio says the reaction to the website has been better than expected since its launch over the holidays, with more than 2,200 visits in the past 24 hours.
“People seem to be happy with it and I’ve received a lot of positive feedback,” said DiDomizio, adding that he hopes getting tested will be a “short-term problem” and the website won’t be needed for long.
“Someone told me he checked the website and had an appointment within the next 30 minutes. It was always the goal.
To view the appointment wizard for the rapid antigen test, visit https://covid-testing-ottawa.vercel.app/ and click on a city.
Rapid antigen tests are available at pharmacies for asymptomatic people only, which means you have no symptoms of COVID-19.
Shoppers Drug Mart lists those eligible for a rapid antigen test at its branches.
Be asymptomatic (you have no symptoms of COVID-19)
Not having been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days
Have not been asked to quarantine in the past 14 days in accordance with federal quarantine requirements
Not advised to get tested for COVID-19 via exposure notification via the COVID-19 app
Not having tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days