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Status of COVID-19 Home Rapid Antigen Test Kits in Barnstable County

December 20, 2021, | Many Barnstable County residents are wondering where and when they might be able to obtain free COVID-19 test kits that were announced by the Baker-Polito Administration during their press conference on December 15th.

The home test kits have already been distributed in four Barnstable County towns that were determined by the Commonwealth to have the greatest number of residents with financial need: Barnstable, Dennis, Eastham, and Orleans. According to Governor Baker’s directive, the tests were delivered directly to and distributed by public health officials in those towns. The regional government of Barnstable County was not included in this effort, nor has it received any home test kits for distribution prior to the holidays. 

It is important to note that the at-home rapid antigen tests that are being distributed and that are available in pharmacies are NOT diagnostic tests; they are screening tools only. They are not intended for use following a confirmed COVID-19 exposure (to lift isolation or quarantine), to re-admit students to school following exposure or the occurrence of symptoms, to facilitate travel, or to confirm COVID-19 negativity/positivity. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health are encouraging the use of these tests in healthy, vaccinated individuals as a precautionary step prior to holiday gatherings that might include elderly family members and at-risk individuals.

We encourage residents who are interested in purchasing a home test kit to check with their local pharmacies. We understand that people are frustrated by the limited availability of these test kits ahead of the holidays.

Barnstable County, in collaboration with all 15 towns, continues its efforts to increase vaccination and testing accessibility for its residents and visitors. Please check the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment website and social media for updates.