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Bernardston’s COVID-19 test supply depleted in 20 minutes

  • Bernardston Board of Health Co-Chair Jean Page helped lead the town’s distribution of 110 COVID-19 test kits Saturday morning at Town Hall. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Residents’ vehicles lined the street around Bernardston Town Hall as people sought out the often hard-to-find at-home COVID-19 test kits on Saturday. The town’s supply of 110 kits was drained after only 20 minutes. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Residents’ vehicles lined the street around Bernardston Town Hall as people sought out the often hard-to-find at-home COVID-19 test kits on Saturday. The town’s supply of 110 kits was drained after only 20 minutes. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 1/15/2022 10:44:44 PM

BERNARDSTON — The 110 COVID-19 test kits the Board of Health distributed Saturday morning were gone in a flash as a steady stream of residents came to collect the often hard-to-find at-home tests.

Vehicles lined up outside Town Hall well before the planned distribution time of 10 a.m., and as the crowd grew, the board decided to start handing out tests at 9:45. Within 20 minutes, the stockpile was gone and residents were being turned away at 10:05.

“That was our supply,” Board of Health Co-Chair Jean Page said to disappointed residents. “They’re all gone.”

When asked if the board anticipated that the supply of tests would be depleted so quickly, Page said, “I’m not surprised.”

Page said the 110 test kits distributed Saturday were part of a shipment from the state that totaled 360. With each kit containing two tests, this amounts to just over 700 tests. She added the first part of the shipment was “distributed initially to the agencies and groups that would serve those in need,” such as the Senior Center, Cushman Library, LifePath’s Meals on Wheels program and the Country Estates trailer park.

Page said it’s nice that the Board of Health was able to get some tests into the hands of residents who may have been searching for tests around the county.

“Now we just thought to give them to the general public,” Page said. “It’s fantastic.”

The Board of Health is not planning to buy any additional tests because Page said there haven’t been that many people requesting them.

“Not a lot,” Page said when asked if Bernardston residents had shown any desire for the town to buy more tests. “There was a smattering of requests that we honored.”

Page added it was heartening to see so many residents line up to get COVID-19 tests for themselves and their family members.

“It’s so nice that people are appreciative and want to do the right thing,” she said. “I love it.”

Resident Shay Coleman said she was happy the town was providing tests as free ones are not always available and the cost of at-home tests from pharmacies can add up.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Coleman said. “The cost is a huge factor.”

Coleman added the tests can give her some precious “peace of mind.”

“The town of Bernardston is fabulous,” Coleman said, “for taking care of us.”

As of Saturday, however, insurance companies are required to reimburse up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month as part of new requirements put in place by the Biden administration.

Resident Peter Kennedy said he’s been “lucky” to get tested himself through his employment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, but he was glad to pick up some tests for his family.

“I’m just happy they’re here,” he said.

Marsha Pratt said she was happy to get a test for both her and her grandson.

“I have a grandson who’s going back to college on Monday and needs one of these,” Pratt said. “I’ll share this one.”

Below is contact information for people seeking COVID-19 tests in Greenfield, as outlined on Mass.gov.

■CIC Health at Greenfield Community College at 1 College Drive in Greenfield. Website: cic-health.com/stopthespread. Alternatively, call 877-280-2937 or email support@cic-health.com to make an appointment. Unscheduled visits are available, however registration is required on site. Testing instructions are available in English and Spanish.

■Walgreens at 5 Pierce St. in Greenfield. Appointments are needed. Those looking to sign up must do so either at walgreens.com or using the Walgreens app.

■Baystate’s testing center at 33 Riddell St. in Greenfield. Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. Call 413-795-8378 to make an appointment. A physician’s referral is required.

At-home tests also can be found at CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, but supplies are often limited.

The federal government is launching a new website Wednesday that promises to deliver COVID-19 tests at covidtests.gov. The tests, however, will take up to two weeks to arrive, according to a Jan. 14 report from the New York Times.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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