BURLINGTON — As the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations continues to fall, the Vermont Department of Health announced it will close the state-run testing sites by June 25.
The state opened its first test sites in the spring of 2020 as part of the emergency response to slow the spread of a novel coronavirus. These sites, which grew statewide and included a network of partners, relied on PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, where samples are taken from patients by health care personnel and sent to a lab. State sites began offering rapid, take-home tests at the end of 2021, as the highly transmissible omicron variant led to a surge in cases.
In a release announcing the planned closure, the Department said at-home tests can meet most testing needs and are widely available at pharmacies across the state and online. Officials say the tests are convenient, give quick results, and are covered by many insurance providers. Vermonters may be able to get tests through their insurance directly at the pharmacy counter, or may need to be reimbursed. Anyone with questions should contact their insurance provider.
Vermonters who are looking for other types of testing, such as PCR or other rapid tests, should check what is available at their local pharmacy or with their health care provider. Testing is recommended for anyone who has symptoms. It is also recommended for people who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 but are not up to date on their vaccines, the Department said.
“I want to thank Vermonters for using testing throughout the pandemic to lower the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “COVID-19 is still with us and will continue to evolve, but so has our knowledge of the virus and how to respond. I encourage everyone to continue using at-home tests when needed. If you do test positive and are at higher risk, please reach out to your health care provider as soon as you can to ask about treatment.”
Vermonters are encouraged to have some at-home tests on hand in case they develop symptoms. They can make an appointment to pick up free tests at state sites before June 25. People are able to get up to four antigen test kits and one LAMP test kit (similar to PCR) per appointment.
Where to get tests after June 25:
Order three rounds of free tests from COVID.gov, which are mailed directly to you.
Get at-home tests from your local pharmacy or online. (Check your insurance coverage).
For other types of testing, check with your local pharmacy or health care provider.
Vermonters who cannot access antigen tests through a pharmacy, health care provider or their insurance can call the Health Department at 802-863-7240, option 8, or check with their local health office for assistance. Vermonters who do not have a health care provider and need to be connected to care can call 2-1-1.
Non-profit community organizations can also see if they qualify to receive take-home tests by mail to provide to the Vermonters they serve. For more information visit healthvermont.gov/testing.