PROVIDENCE — The last remaining state-run COVID-19 test sites were scheduled to close at day’s end Thursday. Here’s what you need to know.
Where were the final sites operating?
Cranston Parkade, East Bay Healthcare Riverside, East Bay Healthcare Newport, Wickford Train Station, McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the former St. Joseph Hospital and East Bay Healthcare Warren.
Why are they being closed?
“The availability and effectiveness of COVID-19 treatment and vaccines have us in a different stage now,” Rhode Island Department of Health spokesman Joseph Wendelken wrote in an email. “Like states throughout the country, Rhode Island is shifting to management of COVID-19 as an endemic disease. This means transitioning state-supported testing and vaccination to traditional partners and settings. COVID-19 services, like testing and vaccination, are now widely available through multiple channels, similar to how services for other endemic diseases are available.”
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How can someone be tested now?
Self-test kits are available at many pharmacies and health centers.
What about payment?
“Some pharmacies and clinics offer free COVID-19 testing to people who don’t have health insurance,” Wendelken said. “If you don’t have insurance, the pharmacy or clinic will submit the cost of your test to a federal program for the uninsured. If you have health insurance, you can also purchase self-test kits online or at local pharmacies and get reimbursed for up to eight tests per month. Contact your insurance carrier for more information.”
Doesn’t the federal government offer free test kits?
Yes. “You can order free COVID-19 tests through the mail by visiting covidtests.gov,” according to Wendelken. “You won’t be asked for insurance or payment information when you order your free tests.”
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What if I have reason to believe I am infected?
“If you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone who tested positive, call your primary care provider or your child’s pediatrician,” Wendelken said.
What about test-to-treat?
“Through this program, people can get tested and if they’re positive and treatments are appropriate for them, get a prescription from a healthcare provider and have their prescription filled all at one location,” Wendelken said. A Test to Treat locator can be found at https://aspr.hhs.gov/TestToTreat/Pages/default.aspx and “a call center is also available at 1-800-232-0233 to get help in multiple languages,” Wendelken said.
Could state-run sites reopen?
Yes. “The state is fully prepared to reopen certain mass testing sites for symptomatic individuals if COVID-19 Community Levels are high,” the Health Department said in a recent media release.
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Currently, the CDC lists the community level in all five Rhode Island counties as low.
In another development, The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it will send more than $3 million to the state of Rhode Island as reimbursement for the costs of operating three field hospitals during the pandemic: the Rhode Island Convention Center, the former Citizens Bank Call Center in Cranston, and the former Lowe’s Home Improvement store in North Kingstown, which was never used. The Providence and Cranston hospitals cared for about 4,300 patients, according to FEMA. They were opened during the surge of December 2020 and January and February 2021.
With reports from Staff Writer Tom Mooney.
COVID by the numbers
Cases in R.I.: 402,769 (398 reported Friday)
Negative tests in R.I.: 7,710,099 (3,663 reported Friday; 9.8% positive rate)
R.I. COVID-related deaths: 3,609 (0 reported Friday)
Rhode Islanders hospitalized with COVID: 54 (fewer than 5 in intensive care)
Fully vaccinated in R.I.: 849,942 (971,956 at least partially vaccinated)
Cases in Mass.: 1,922,647
Mass. COVID-related deaths: 20,935
Cases in U.S.: 87,421,345
U.S. COVID-related deaths: 1,017,529