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The Adams Council on Aging receives COVID-19 tests from the state on Thursday, with the intent of distributing them as soon as possible. A dozen Berkshire communities are receiving the free tests including North Adams and Williamstown.

Free COVID-19 Tests Arriving in North Berkshire

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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Sarah Fontaine and Barbara Proper came up with a list of several locations that Adams residents in need will be able to obtain a COVID-19 test.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Council on Aging will be distributing the 1,620 COVID-19 tests that the town received from the state, with plans to give them all before the holidays. 

 

"We got a call from the Board of Health in the town hall, asking if we wanted to take the lead. And, of course, we jumped right in on that. And seniors, as you know, have been very affected by this pandemic," said Council on Aging Director Sarah Fontaine. 

 

The state delivered the COVID-19 antigen rapid tests on Thursday to the Council on Aging office, located at 3 Hoosac St. In addition to offering tests at the office, Fontaine said tests will be placed at several sites, including senior and low-income housing, Town Hall and the Police and Fire Departments.  

 

"We've already reached out to the different senior housing sites and the different subsidized housing buildings here in town," she said. "Barb [Proper] and I met yesterday and came up with a preliminary list of who to reach out to first and who to give priority to receive the test." 

 

The tests will primarily go to those who do not have the financial means to purchase them. 

 

"Adams received the tests because of the disproportionately low income that we have here in town," Fontaine said. 

 

North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard said the city has received 4,500 of the free, rapid test kits and will be working with local organizations to distribute them. He anticipated an announcement on where they will be located next week.

 

"We're going to be working with our local community partners to get them in the hands of those who need them," he said. "We would look at health-care provides and child-care providers and the places we know there will be need ... We're going to have to make those determinations who those groups are and we will anticipate come collaboration." 

 

The mayor said the amount will likely go fast so it was important to ensure access, equity and collaboration.

 

In Williamstown, test kits are available at the Harper Center for senior citizens, the Williamstown Housing Authority for housing assistance recipients and the Williamstown Municipal Building during business hours for all others who are eligible. 

 

Fontaine said many of the seniors the Adams Council on Aging works with could take advantage of the free test program, making the council a sensible fit to distribute. She said the council has plenty of experience with distribution on this scale. 

 

"We as the COA are used to taking on large projects like this and distributing food and whatever else the big box trucks deliver to us," she said. 

 

Additionally, Fontaine said the council already has the necessary connections to distribute tests quickly. 

 

"We have our hands in a lot of different community outreach," she said. "So we took on the charge here, and we're very happy to help get these tests in the hands of the community."

 

The goal, according to Fontaine, is to distribute as many tests as possible before the holidays. She said this is because holiday gatherings could become potential COVID-19 hotspots if people do not have the means to test beforehand. 

 

"The state had hoped to have them all distributed before the holidays so that people could test before they meet with family members," she said. "So that's our goal as well, within this week, is to get them out."

 

Fontaine said this weekend's town scavenger hunt would be a perfect time to start distributing tests. The scavenger hunt will take residents to several proposed test kit sites. 

 

"It's a free event, so we expect a lot of community members to attend," she said. 

 

Bernard said the tests are not a permission slip to be less vigilant around people of uncertain vaccination statues but another tool to help residents stay safe at a time when there are holiday social gatherings and a climbing positive rate in the county.

 

"This particular test has a fairly high accuracy rate but, like any test, is not 100 percent," he said.

 

The free test kits are for those experiencing financial need; test kits can also can be purchased or through local drug stores or ordered online. Information on the test, including how to take it, can be found here.

 

Adams and North Adams are among the 102 communities receiving free tests from the state. Other communities in Berkshire County to get tests are Clarksburg, Florida, Great Barrington, Hinsdale, Mount Washington, Peru, Pittsfield, Savoy, West Stockbridge and Williamstown.


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