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BOSTON - Due to a significant decline in demand at state sponsored Stop the Spread testing sites and the wide availability of rapid antigen tests, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced updates to the Stop the Spread (STS) testing program. As the Commonwealth continues to evolve in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stop the Spread testing program will downsize to 11 sites, effective April 1, 2022. Over the past two months, these sites have seen a rapid decline in volume across locations, with an 80% decrease in volume since the beginning of January.
At the same time, Massachusetts has continued to see positive trends in COVID-19 metrics. As of March 1, Massachusetts 7-day average of cases reported is down 96% from its peak in January of this year and overall positivity rate is less than 2%.
The Stop the Spread testing initiative was created by the Baker-Polito Administration in the earliest days of the pandemic to respond rapidly to the significant surge in COVID-19 positive cases and ensure access to free COVID-19 testing at a time when there were very few testing options. Since the start of STS in July 2020, this first in the nation free testing program has provided over 4 million tests to residents of the Commonwealth at 41 locations.
As of April 1, 2022, 11 STS sites will continue to offer PCR testing. These tests will remain free to any Massachusetts resident, with no insurance or ID necessary.
The locations that will remain open were selected based on demonstrated need, volume of daily testing, and geographic equity. From January 20- February 16, 2022, these 11 sites accounted for nearly 72% of all Stop the Spread testing volume. These sites will continue through at least May 15, 2022.
There are over 450 locations across the Commonwealth for residents to get tested for COVID-19, and residents can visit www.mass.gov/gettested to find a location near them. Additionally, residents of the Commonwealth can access COVID-19 Rapid antigen at-home test kits from hundreds of locations including over-the-counter at local pharmacies, such as CVS or Walgreens, and through other retailers such as Amazon or Walmart. Tests may also be distributed through employers, municipal programs, school districts and other community partners.
COVID-19 Rapid Antigen at-home tests are now also covered by insurance, as required by the federal government. Health Insurance companies will cover 8 over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month. MassHealth members are included. The federal government has also made at-home rapid tests available to all residents through a web-based platform. These rapid antigen at-home tests can be ordered from the COVID Home Tests | USPS
The Administration recently announced the purchase of 26 million COVID-19 at-home Rapid Antigen tests. Municipalities that will transition from state sponsored STS testing locations will receive an allocation of these tests based on STS volumes over two weeks in February. Supply is intended to provide a month’s bridge during this transition, with each municipality receiving a minimum of 1,080 tests.
The tests will be distributed by March 31.
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