Mass. joins multi-state agreement to buy 3 million rapid tests as testing delays persist

BOSTON — Massachusetts is joining six other states in a deal to buy hundreds of thousands of rapid coronavirus tests. This comes as COVID-19 testing delays persist across the Commonwealth.

On Friday, the line wrapped around the building was enough for Tom Hartshorne to leave CareWell Urgent Care’s parking lot without getting a rapid COVID-19 test.

He returned Wednesday waiting several hours before getting his results, which were negative and now the ability to safely drive to New Jersey to see his family.

A Medford man who did not wish to share his name told Boston 25 News he went to the same location Tuesday at the 11 a.m., saw how long the line was, heard the wait time for others, and left.

“I get that there’s a lot of people trying to get tested which just sucks because I had to miss a couple of days of work trying to get tested because I can’t go back to work.”

He chose to drive to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and will wait for a day or two before the results are in.

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Boston 25 News heard from seven people seeking rapid tests, some had tried other clinics with lengthy waits.

CareWell performs SARS Antigen FIA nasal swab tests which can produce results within 15 minutes, according to its website, but there is no mention of potential wait times.

Under the new agreement, Mass. would receive about 500,000 of the tests. The goal is to be able to more quickly detect if there’s an outbreak in a school, workplace, or healthcare facility.

“Increasing both testing capacity and access to testing is a critical part of stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are pleased to join this interstate compact and look forward to working with this bipartisan group of governors to collectively build on these shared goals.”

For PCR testing and Serum Antibody tests, the wait times are 10-14 days and two days, respectively. Multiple calls and emails to CareWell were not returned as of news time Wednesday.

“If people are waiting so long for the tests they decide not to get them that tells you that there’s failure in the system,” said David Rosman, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Rosman said testing is the key weapon in the battle against COVID-19.

“We need a substantial increase in the amount of testing and we need total cooperation of the Commonwealth to be able to work with the testing and be willing to wait while they await the results,” he said.

“Our entire nation faces a health crisis the likes of which have not been seen for one hundred years, and we look forward to working with the Foundation and working in concert with other states as we fight together collaboratively against the novel coronavirus,” said Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland when the agreement was announced Wednesday. The letter was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker as well as leaders in Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

The Baker administration did not return a request for comment left Wednesday morning.


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