Updated 8/2/22

With the rise of the very contagious Omicron variant, case counts are rising and breakthrough cases are common. Take preventive measures to keep you and your community safe. Testing is one critical tool to utilize in this new surge of the pandemic. Learn more about COVID tests, your options for testing in Massachusetts, and steps to take if you test positive.

Types of COVID Tests

There’s 2 main types of COVID tests: 

  1. The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a molecular test and generally the most accurate testing option. It’s done at a testing site or physician’s office. Results are usually ready in 1-3 days. Testing is free. 
  2. The antigen test (often referred to as a "rapid test" or "home test") analyzes for the protein in the virus. Efficacy is strongest when the person’s viral load is high. It can be purchased over the counter and completed at home. Results are ready in 15 minutes. It is worth noting that preliminary data shows that rapid tests may not be highly sensitive to the Omicron variant. They have high positive predictive value (if it’s positive you almost certainly have COVID) but poor negative predictive value (a negative result does not rule out the disease).  

For more information about these types of tests, check out this resource from Yale Medicine. You can search for a testing site near you using this resource

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free testing options

PCR Tests: Most insurance companies will cover COVID-19 testing administered for health reasons (like having symptoms or being a close contact of someone with COVID) at no additional cost to you. However, some insurance companies will not pay for elective testing (like testing after travel or before visiting family).  Please contact your insurance provider if you have questions about your coverage.

Free PCR testing is available at many community sites and all Massachusetts’ Stop the Spread sites. Contact the testing site if you are unsure if testing is free. 

Antigen (at-home) Tests: The Biden-Harris Administration is requiring insurance companies and group health plans to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests, so people with private health coverage can get up to 8 tests per month for free starting January 15th, 2022. The new coverage requirement means that most consumers with private health coverage can go online or to a pharmacy or store, buy a test, and either get it paid for up front by their health plan, or get reimbursed for the cost by submitting a claim to their plan. Testing kits cost $12-25 per box, and two tests are provided in each box. MassHealth offers coverage for up to eight such at home antigen self-test kits per member per month without prior authorization.

For people who do not have health insurance, the Biden-Harris Administration is purchasing 500 million over-the-counter at-home tests to be distributed for free to all Americans who want them, with the initial delivery starting in January 2022. Beginning on January 19th, Americans can request tests using the website: covidtests.gov.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is providing up to 50 million free, at-home tests to community health centers and Medicare-certified health clinics for distribution at no cost to patients and community members. The program is intended to ensure COVID-19 tests are made available to populations and settings in need of testing, especially populations at greatest risk from adverse outcomes related to COVID-19. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has more helpful information. Additional information about COVID services for uninsured individuals can be found here

Testing Locations

State-wide testing sites:

Health Centers, physician offices, and urgent care centers may also offer COVID testing. These sites likely will require a referral and for the patient to be symptomatic. Call your local center or doctor’s office to inquire. 

Major testing sites in western Massachusetts:

Berkshire County:
  • Contact a local CVS or Walgreens pharmacy, local health center or primary care doctor. 

  • Springfield has the closest State-run Stop the Spread testing site that offers completely free testing with no ID or health insurance required.  
Franklin County:
  • FRCOG list of Testing sites 

  • Greenfield: Greenfield Community College, 1 College Drive (located in the Cafe, look for "Curative" signs) 
    • Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 1pm-4pm
    • No appointment needed but helpful to schedule ahead of time. 
    • Free. No insurance necessary. 
  • Greenfield: Baystate Franklin Medical Center, 33 Riddle St
    • Testing offered daily. 
    • Referral required and you must schedule an appointment to be tested by calling 413-795-TEST.
  • Shelburne Falls: Greenfield Cooperative Bank, 33 Bridge St
    • Tuesdays 9am-1pm and Thursdays 12pm-4pm
    • No appointment needed but helpful to schedule ahead of time. 
    • Free. No insurance necessary. 
  • South Deerfield: South County Senior Center, 67 N Main Street
    • Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 10am-1pm
    • No appointment needed but helpful to schedule ahead of time. 
    • Free. No insurance necessary. 
Hampden County:
  • Holyoke: CVS, 250 Whiting Farms Road (drive thru)
    • This is a community testing site. Tests are performed at no cost, and insurance, Social Security number, and driver’s license/state ID are not needed.
    • Appointments required. Schedule here
    • Ages 3+
    • Symptomatic and asymptomatic accepted.
  • Holyoke: Holyoke Community College, 303 Homestead Ave (in parking lot M outside the Bartley Center)
    • Mondays-Fridays, 10am-5pm
    • Saturdays & Sundays, 10am-2pm
    • No appointment needed but helpful to schedule ahead of time. 
    • Free. No insurance necessary. 
    • Symptomatic and asymptomatic accepted 
  • Holyoke Mall drive thru testing, 50 Holyoke St (located near the Planet Fitness parking lot)
    • **closing April 30th, 2022
    • Mondays-Sundays, 9am-5pm
    • No appointment needed but helpful to schedule ahead of time. 
    • Free. No insurance necessary. 
    • Symptomatic and asymptomatic accepted.
  • Holyoke: Holyoke Medical Center (drive thru testing at main entrance), 575 Beech Street
    • Monday - Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    • Pre-register by calling 413-534-2856
    • PCR testing is currently unavailable at this location. Other molecular and antigen tests, which are approved by the state of Massachusetts, will be performed.
    • All Ages
    • Cost: yes, and some insurances may cover the cost
  • Westfield: Curative testing trailer at 19 Railroad Ave
    • Mondays through Fridays from 10am-5pm; Saturdays from 10am-1:30pm
    • No appointment is needed, or you can pre-register to save time.  
  • Westfield, Springfield, Ware, Feeding Hills, and Longmeadow: Baystate Urgent Care
    • Referral required. More information here
  • Holyoke, Chicopee, & Hampshire county - Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa list of testing sites
  • Springfield has dozens of testing sites.
    • Search in your community here
    • Springfield Department of Health and Human Services also has a list of testing sites 
  • Springfield: Eastfield Mall, 1655 Boston Rd
    • Monday-Friday, 8am-3pm; Saturday & Sunday, 9am-3pm
    • Pre-register here.
    • All ages
    • Free
  • Springfield: Technology Park at 1 Federal Street
    • Mondays-Fridays from 12-8pm
    • Saturdays and Sundays 10am-6pm
    • Register here.
    • All ages
    • Free
Hampshire County:
  • Northampton: CVS, 366 King Street
    • This is a community testing site. Tests are performed at no cost, and insurance, Social Security number, and driver’s license/state ID are not needed.
    • Appointments required. Schedule here
    • Ages 3+
    • Symptomatic and asymptomatic accepted.
  • Easthampton: Mill Side Park located at 2 Ferry St
    • Walk up testing available
    • Mondays through Thursdays 8:30am-11:30am
    • Fridays and Saturday 1:00pm-4:00pm
    • Appointments are encouraged & prioritized; walks-ins accepted
    • Free
    • All ages accepted
  • Cooley Dickinson Testing Centers are now located in its urgent care clinics. Appointment and referral required. Call to make an appointment: 888-554-4234.
    • Amherst and Southampton: Mon-Fri, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm; Sat-Sun 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
    • Northampton: Mon-Fri, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, Sat-Sun 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • Hampshire county, Holyoke, & Chicopee - Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa list of testing sites 

 

Did we miss any key testing sites? Please let us know

at-home Testing Options

At-Home PCR Testing:

The state of Massachusetts and Labcorp are teaming up to make convenient at-home kits available for MA residents. These kids are sent to your home for you to complete and mail back. 

  • Eligibility: 
    • Experiencing mild symptoms
    • Exposed to someone with COVID-19
    • Live or work in a congregate setting
    • Asked to get tested by a healthcare professional, contact investigator, or public health department.
  • Cost: free, paid for by insurance or government.
  • How to access: place your order for kits here.
Over the counter Rapid/Antigen Tests:

You can also purchase rapid antigen tests from many pharmacies (online or in store) including but not limited to CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Stop & Shop, and Big Y, as well as community health centers, and other designated locations in MA. Insurance companies and group health plans are required to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests, so each person with private health coverage can get 8 tests per month for free starting January 15th. MassHealth offers coverage for up to eight such at home antigen self-test kits per member per month without prior authorization.

The Biden Administration is purchasing 500 million over-the-counter at-home rapid tests to be distributed for free to all Americans who want them, with the initial delivery starting in January 2022. Beginning on January 19th, Americans can request tests using the website: covidtests.gov. The tests will take 7 to 12 days to arrive.

In addition, Massachusetts has ordered 26 million rapid tests to be dispersed to municipalities across the state with priority for schools and childcare settings. The Baker Administration has also set up a process for municipalities to order tests directly from manufacturers. Contact your local board of health to inquire more about this. 

what to do if exposed or test positive

If you are exposed:

  • If are you do not have symptoms, you need to wear a mask for 10 days (unless you are physically unable) but do not need to quarantine.

  • If you develop symptoms, get tested and isolate until you know your result.  

If you test positive, follow the guidance from the MA Department of Public Health and CDC so you don't spread the virus:

  • Notify your doctor and inquire about therapeutic treatments, which can keep you from getting severely ill. They're safe, effective, and free - no insurance needed. 
  • For those who can wear a mask: Isolate at home for 5 days and refrain from leaving unless there's an emergency. Wear a mask if you come into contact with others in your home. Make sure you are fever-free for 24 hours before ending isolation. Wear a mask for an additional 5 days post-isolation. 
  • For those who cannot mask: Isolate for 10 days. 
  • Social distance from others and avoid people who are at high risk of infection.
  • Take care of yourself - get lots of rest and drink lots of water.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
  • Wash your hands and wipe down surfaces.
  • Notify anyone who you might have come into contact with 3 days prior.

Seek emergency care if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone