PCR testing site coming to Deerfield

  • The South County Senior Center, pictured at left, at 67 North Main St. in South Deerfield, will house a free PCR testing site starting March 7. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 2/27/2022 8:06:55 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With communities making moves to manage COVID-19 as a part of everyday life, Deerfield has finalized a deal with nationwide health care company Curative to establish a free PCR testing site.

To be located in the South County Senior Center, at 67 North Main St., Curative will offer free COVID-19 tests on both an appointment and walk-in basis for all Franklin County residents. An online registration platform is still being finalized, but Board of Health Chair Carolyn Shores Ness said the testing site will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday beginning March 7.

“The pandemic is going to continue on, what’s happening is it’s in a different stage now, it’s going to be endemic,” Shores Ness said. “This is part of our plan to make sure we keep the schools open and allow people to have as normal a life as possible.”

According to Deerfield Health Agent Alex White, Curative — which is based in San Dimas, California — has worked with Easthampton, Southwick and other towns in the Pioneer Valley, and he has heard only “positive news.”

With a more “convenient” testing site, the town will be able to gather more accurate and up-to-date COVID-19 case numbers, which Shores Ness said will help the Board of Health make “data-driven” decisions and be “as flexible and responsive as possible” to the ever-changing pandemic.

“We hope people will take advantage of it,” she said. “If they’re going somewhere and doing something, they can show they’re virus-free. When they come back, they can show they’re virus-free or they can go home and quarantine for five days. … The idea is to have people be informed as much as possible.”

The site comes at no cost to the town or residents as Curative is reimbursed by the insurance companies for tests — Shores Ness emphasized that people without insurance will be able to get a test with no issue. The town providing the Senior Center as a free space for the company to set up its materials allows Curative to get operations “set up sooner and working sooner.”

The Senior Center has been operating out of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church since last fall due to the building’s condition. Shores Ness said the town has been applying mitigation methods to the Senior Center for its mold and asbestos issues, but the testing center will be based in the back of the building. Meanwhile, the second floor and basement, where issues are the worst, will be blocked off to prevent air circulation.

“We’re going to clean it and have a table set up by the back door,” she explained. “It should be OK … for this low-key kind of thing.”

Describing Deerfield as a “crossroads,” Shores Ness said this will be an easy place for residents of southern Franklin County to get a COVID-19 test without having to drive to Greenfield or Amherst. In other communities, Curative implements a minimum test requirement for the site to remain in operation, but in Deerfield, Shores Ness said there is no minimum.

The site’s closing date has been left “open-ended” and Shores Ness estimates the site to remain open at least through the spring.

As the testing site prepares to open, Shores Ness encourages anybody who wants a test to come get one.

“I’m really excited. This is part of us trying to work to transition to a more normal life,” Shores Ness said. “After two years, everybody’s just done with this. We’ve got to find a way to keep people safe and move on with our lives.”


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