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More PCR test clinics added; home kits available for people in need

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Amy Vince
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A sign in Shaws in Falmouth announcing COVID test kits being out of stock.

Free COVID-19 testing is expanding on Cape Cod, adding to last week’s announcement of a state test site at the Cape Cod Melody Tent.

The additions include new PCR clinics and free access to at-home test kits for people in need.

In Provincetown, a testing site has opened at Town Hall, run by Transformative Healthcare, the same state contractor operating at the Melody Tent. It offers free PCR testing every Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Barnstable County test site at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds, which officials were considering closing, is instead moving across the street. Due in part to the cold weather, it’s moving indoors, to the lobby of Cape Cod Church. The clinic is also expanding to two days a week, instead of one.

Public outcry helped stop the Fairgrounds site from closing, according to state Rep. Dylan Fernandes.

“Barnstable County has received an outpouring of feedback from the community, requesting that the fairgrounds PCR site continue to function,” he said.

The first day of testing at the church will be Thursday, Jan. 20; after that, it will be open Mondays and Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

With regard to at-home rapid tests, two local community health centers — Island Health Care on Martha’s Vineyard and Outer Cape Health Services — have begun receiving thousands of test kits, free of charge, from the federal government.

Pat Nadle, CEO of Outer Cape Health Services, said the administration notified them they were eligible to receive the tests because they are a federally qualified community health center, caring for underserved populations.

Outer Cape will distribute the kits to health agents in the 10 towns it serves — from Yarmouth to Provincetown — and to community agencies for people in need, including clients of food pantries and soup kitchens, she said.

“These kits are meant … to be distributed to folks who really need, and have an easy way to access them, through our distribution,” she said.

Outer Cape Health Services has received more than 5,000 kits and will be able to place new orders on a weekly basis.

Island Health Care has access to kits in the same manner, according to state Sen. Julian Cyr.

State Rep. Sarah Peake said Thursday that the region is mounting a strong defense against the latest surge of COVID-19.

“I think an overarching theme here is that despite these rising numbers, Cape Cod and the Islands remain prepared and resilient,” she said.