On December 29, 2021

Vermont’s Covid-19 test distribution sites depleted in holiday scramble

Staff report

Vermonters across the state have waited in long lines to pick up take-home Covid tests ahead of holiday get-togethers — only to be told, in many cases, that the tests were all gone.

State officials had announced on Tuesday, Dec. 21, that tens of thousands of test kits would be available at 16 distribution sites across the state starting Thursday, Dec. 23. But by late morning, the Department of Health announced that most sites had run out of antigen tests for the day.

In Mendon, the tests were gone in the first hour (by 9 a.m.) but lines of cars continued to flock there hoping to get tests.

The department immediate said it would make more antigen test kits available Friday, Dec. 24 and hoped to continue to increase supply to meet demand through the holiday week. The state had secured about 100,000 tests to be distributed.

The department’s press release said Gov. Phil Scott’s administration continues to work on acquiring more antigen tests, “but like other states, we are constrained by the realities of the supply at the federal level.”

Two kits are available per car or walk-in, on a first-come-first-served basis.

According to Dept. of Health spokesperson Ben Truman, the department distributed about 30,000 tests on Thursday — roughly 25,000 antigen test kits and 5,000 LAMP tests.

Antigen test kits deliver results within 15 minutes, and while they are not as accurate as PCR tests, they are still considered very accurate and a very helpful tool catch Covid and prevent community spread.

LAMP tests — which function similar to PCR tests, but provide faster results — are available by appointment only, the department said. The department’s appointment portal indicates there were no LAMP or PCR test appointments available Dec. 23-25 and appointments after that were filling up very quickly.

“We recognize the frustration (some) people may have, and hope that everyone — tested or not — follow all the recommended steps to help prevent spread of the virus,” Truman said.

Erin Petenko, Liora Engel-Smith and Jack Lyons of VTDigger contributed to this story.

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