Free Amherst COVID tests available at Bangs center, library

Staff Writer
Published: 10/12/2021 8:22:00 PM

AMHERST — Free asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, available on the University of Massachusetts campus since last December, is coming to downtown Amherst this week.

Town officials announced Tuesday that Amherst received an initial batch of 500 community COVID-19 testing kits from the Public Health Promotion Center that residents can pick up at the health department office at the Bangs Community Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, as well as at the circulation desk at the Jones Library.

Brianna Sunryd, the town’s communications manager, said the free testing is a collaboration with the UMass center, where free walk-up testing has been available throughout the year. That testing has transitioned largely to what are known as unobserved testing, with kits available to the campus community on the lower level of the Campus Center.

In the assembled kits, people will find instructions about how to do the self-test, including swabbing each of their nostrils slowly in a circular motion for 10 seconds.

“We’re encouraging people to take the tests home with them,” Sunryd said, adding that people could do the tests in their vehicles, but shouldn’t be completing them in the town buildings.

Tests are limited to one per person, though for families with children 4 and over, and other family members in need of the test, more can be obtained.

Sunryd said the kits put into the drop box kiosk at the main entrance to the Bangs will be collected at 9:30 a.m. daily and brought to the UMass campus around 10 a.m., with results provided in 24 to 48 hours.

All participants will be notified by email and positive cases will be investigated by the Amherst Health Department.

The testing is also continuing at UMass, where the Public Health Promotion Center is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Fridays, when it closes at noon. On-campus drop-off sites are on the second floor of the Campus Center, outside the Mullins Center and at University Health Services.

Those with COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to contact their physicians, rather than use the kits.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccination clinics are continuing Thursday at the Bangs.

The town is beginning to offer Pfizer vaccine boosters to those eligible. Those getting a third shot should bring their original vaccine cards so the latest can be documented.

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