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Waitlists filling up at test sites for Vermonters without COVID-19 symptoms

  • Jason Antos, an Advanced EMT for Rescue Inc., puts a COVID-19 testing swab up the nasal passage of Anya Wolfe, of Wardsboro, Vt., during a pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic at the Brattleboro Union High School's parking lot in Brattleboro, Vt., Thursday, May 14, 2020. The clinics are part of the state's efforts to ramp up testing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP) Kristopher Radder

Published: 5/14/2020 6:00:54 PM
Modified: 5/14/2020 6:15:05 PM

The state Department of Health will offer COVID-19 tests for Vermonters without symptoms, and residents are already lining up.

Health officials say they will set up temporary pop-up testing sites at 11 towns and cities across the state.

It’s the first time members of the general public without flu-like symptoms or a doctor’s referral can get a test, and Vermonters responded with enthusiasm: On Thursday afternoon, the state was already running waitlists at the first three clinics — in Brattleboro on Thursday and in Hartford and Colchester on Saturday.

The state can test more than 400 people at each clinic, which will be staffed by the Department of Health with help from the National Guard and local emergency departments. There’s no doctor’s referral required, but those who want to be tested must register online for a time slot. The state will prioritize testing for front-line workers, including health care workers, first responders and child care providers, as well as people coming from out of state.

Department spokesperson Ben Truman called the latest effort “a value-add to the testing effort.” Officials concluded that “we’ve got the capacity to do broader testing — so let’s include asymptomatic (individuals),” he said.

Those who have COVID-19 symptoms should get a referral for a test from their doctor, according to the Health Department.

The initiative is part of the state’s broad efforts to ramp up testing for the virus and reach Gov. Phil Scott’s goal of running 1,000 tests a day. In April, officials said Vermont has the capacity to do nearly four times the daily tests it was running at the time. The number of people seeking doctor’s referrals had dropped; fewer people were reporting COVID-like symptoms.

Earlier this week, three sites in Southern Vermont started offering tests for asymptomatic essential workers and people returning to the state, including college students or second-homeowners.

“Routine testing is here to stay,” Health Commissioner Mark Levine told reporters Wednesday. It would be available to front-line workers and vulnerable populations, “but also in the general population,” he said.

The first clinic was set up Thursday in Brattleboro. The rest are scheduled for dates from Saturday to May 23.

Upcoming Tests

Saturday, May 16 — Hartford & Colchester

Monday, May 18 — Rutland

Tuesday, May 19 — Barre

Wednesday, May 20 — Middlebury and St. Albans

Thursday, May 21 — Newport

Friday, May 22 — Springfield and Morrisville

Saturday, May 23 — St. Johnsbury

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