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Free, no-appointment COVID testing opens at Cape Cod Melody Tent

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Jennette Barnes
/
CAI
Mark Adams of North Truro gets tested for COVID-19 in July of 2021 outside Veterans Memorial Community Center in Provincetown. The pop-up testing site aimed to stop a spate of breakthrough infections among people who are fully vaccinated.

As demand surges for COVID-19 testing, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is opening a testing site at the Cape Cod Melody Tent.

The site will offer free, drive-up PCR testing, with no appointment needed, said Sean O’Brien, director of health and environment for Barnstable County.

“This is a great location,” he said. “People can go in, drive on through. They don't have to get out of the car.”

Pre-registration is optional through barnstablecountyhealth.org. Everyone who gets tested must provide a valid email address to receive the test results.

The site will be operated by Transformative Healthcare, a contractor for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The same company ran the testing site at the Veterans Memorial Community Center in Provincetown during the COVID-19 outbreak there last summer.

Testing hours at the Melody Tent are Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

O’Brien said another site may open for the Outer Cape, possibly in Provincetown, or testing may be expanded at the Orleans Department of Public Works, where the county already gives COVID-19 tests.

In addition to testing, the state is making vaccination more available on the Cape as well. A state-funded vaccination site has opened at Cape Cod Community College, running three days a week: Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Appointments can be found at vaxfinder.mass.gov, and the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment has posted a direct link to appointments at the college.

State Senator Julian Cyr said the new testing and vaccination capacity is funded by federal relief money, including dollars appropriated by the state legislature and released by the Baker-Polito administration.

Meanwhile, Barnstable County health officials are trying to make testing at local hospitals easier to access.

The Hyannis Fire Department has signed on to administer tests at Cape Cod Hospital, and a department from the Upper Cape will probably do the same at Falmouth Hospital, O’Brien said.

Emergency medical personnel will witness the swabbing, and Cape Cod Healthcare will analyze the samples, he said.

The latest wave of COVID-19 has brought a high infection rate, but lower overall severity, in keeping with what research suggests about the Omicron variant.

Cape Cod hit its highest-ever count of new COVID-19 cases in a single day on Tuesday, at 411 cases.

Hospitalizations are also higher, but people generally have less severe illness, according to Vaira Harik, assistant county administrator.

Deaths from COVID-19 remain lower than last winter.