State extends COVID-19 testing site at HCC through October

  • A nurse from Aveanna Healthcare administers a COVID-19 test at Holyoke Community College. Free testing is available at the site through Sept. 30 as part of the state’s “Stop the Spread” program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/HOLYOKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/16/2020 10:25:37 AM

HOLYOKE — The state has extended its COVID-19 testing at Holyoke Community College, originally slated to end last weekend, through the end of October.

The testing, offered drive-through style as part of the Massachusetts “Stop the Spread” program, is free and does not require an appointment. A second walk-up site is also available at 323 Appleton St. through the end of the month as part of the same initiative.

The state offered to expand the duration of the testing site, first through September and then again through October, said Holyoke Director of Health Sean Gonsalves, and the city readily accepted.

“We feel that it’s a valuable resource for people to get access to testing without any red tape, and it helps keep transmission down,” he said. In the past, Gonsalves noted, some people reported difficulty obtaining a test without symptoms or a referral. But research has shown that asymptomatic individuals infected with COVID-19 can still spread the virus.

The site uses a type of test known as RT-PCR, and involves a lower nasal swab that is less invasive than some tests. Accuracy is above 96%, Gonsalves said. The tests are administered by emergency medical technicians and nurses from County Ambulance and Aveanna Healthcare in Springfield.

Gonsalves encouraged anyone who hasn’t been tested to take advantage of the opportunity, even if they do not feel sick.

“The more people who know about whether or not they have it, the fewer people will spread it,” Gonsalves said. “If you know you have it and you quarantine, you reduce the chance of spreading it through the community.”

Results are typically available within four days, Gonsalves said, with slight variation — some people may need to wait a couple days longer, while others have received results within 24 hours.

Tests are available at HCC on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 11 a.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. outside of the Bartley Center for Athletics and Recreation.

At the Appleton Street site, testing hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3 to 6 p.m.

Testing is open to all Massachusetts residents.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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