CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP/SHNS) – State officials are looking into ways to increase COVID-19 testing in Massachusetts as the omicron variant has been detected in the state last week.
Home testing is available at no cost to all eligible Massachusetts adults. Kits are reserved for adults (18+) who live or work in a congregate setting, are experiencing symptoms, have recently been in contact with someone with COVID-19, or who have otherwise been recommended for testing.
To request a test kit, visit Pixel by LabCorp for Massachusetts for details.
Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said state officials were “hoping to be able to make some announcements next week about rapid tests in Massachusetts.”
Baker has recently been vocal with his frustration that the federal government has not done more to make rapid COVID-19 tests more available and affordable to Americans, as they are in European countries. Last week, President Biden announced plans to require health insurers to reimburse their members who purchase at-home rapid tests.
“I’ve been banging on the White House on this issue for months,” Baker said Friday. “And I have to tell you, I’m glad they finally got the message, but you should all know that I’m going to go to them, and I’m going to say, ‘I’m glad you finally figured out this matters, but you’re going about it the wrong way.’”
Instead of having a limited distribution and creating a process where people have to seek repayment from their insurance after the fact, Baker said the federal government should “cut a deal with the manufacturers that basically creates a price point at the retail stop that’s a buck, and they should be sending these to every single retail outlet in America they can possibly find so that these things are stacked on … pharmacies’ shelves as high as you can see.”
“They should be available in tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of locations, they should cost a buck, and people should be able to go in there and buy five, buy 10, and then give a ton of them to the community health centers so the community health centers can do the same thing.”
Baker raised concerns that Biden’s plan would be too complicated and that people would not expect to actually receive reimbursements or understand the process.
“No one’s going to buy 10 tests thinking they’re going to get their money back from an insurance company that they don’t trust already, and they won’t get their money back for a while, so, I don’t know, I’m kind of bummed about the way they did this,” he said.
Pushes around testing and boosters come as people plan holiday gatherings and travel and as winter’s approach moves more social activities back indoors.
“As we move into the winter months, these at-home tests are a valuable tool for Granite Staters to easily test themselves and get back in the game quickly,” Gov. Chris Sununu said at the time. “As the first state in the nation to run this program statewide, we’re excited for the ease of access this program provides to individuals and families across New Hampshire.”
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said the CDC is studying a plan that would allow students to test frequently to stay in the classroom after exposure to COVID-19, instead of being forced to miss school and disrupting parents’ work schedules.
“The CDC is just looking at the data around this to make sure they know the details of the frequency of testing that makes sense,” Murthy said. “They want to make sure that the data is clear, that this is a safe strategy.”
A plan is also in the works to increase access to testing by having private health insurance cover the cost of in-home testing.
“We will be sending 50 million rapid antigen tests to community centers around the country so people can also access those tests freely,” Murthy said.
President Biden said medical experts expect the number of COVID cases to keep rising through the winter and is urging all American adults to get a booster shot for added protection.