COVID-19 Testing Comes To Harwich Port

By: Alan Pollock

COVID-19

Baker Launches Small Business Relief Effort

HARWICH PORT Outer Cape Health Services is now providing COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people at its Harwich Port health center.

Appointments are required to receive a test; to reserve a space, call 508-905-2888. Tests are also available at Outer Cape Health Services’ sites in Wellfleet and Provincetown.

Asymptomatic people will receive an Abbott BinaxNOW antigen test, which is self-administered. Those who test negative will be notified by text message, and those with positive tests will get a phone call. Tests are free through Jan. 10, thanks to a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. After that, tests cost $75, which may be billed to individuals with insurance, although they won't be charged a co-pay, and no one will be turned away because they cannot pay. Those who need a PCR test for travel-related reasons must pay a $110 fee.
Outer Cape Health Services will also continue to provide symptomatic tests at all three sites, and will bill insurance for those tests. If an individual is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or has been referred to testing related to contact tracing, the individual should call first for a tele-health screening visit.

Pat Nadle, Outer Cape Health Services’ CEO, said additional resources are in place to support the scheduling and testing efforts, but demand will be high. “We are doing our best and hope we can stay on top of requests,” she said.

“There will be wait times,” said State Sen. Julian Cyr, speaking for the Cape Cod Reopening Task force. “We really urge people to have a little patience.” Cyr stressed that tests will not be provided to those without appointments.

“While our region continues to go without a sorely needed Stop the Spread site, Cape Cod’s health care providers and public health officials have persistently worked to close our regional testing gap and help more residents receive tests, quarantine if necessary, and save lives,” he added.

“Once again, as Outer Cape Health Services has done throughout its history, they are stepping up to provide the best in healthcare and public health support for our communities on the Outer and Lower Cape,” said State Rep. Sarah Peake. “Offering these free and low-cost tests will be a real game changer for the people that live here. They continue to be there for us and I am very grateful to them for all of these efforts.”

The drive-through test sites in Hyannis and Falmouth continue to operate, though those calling to schedule an appointment have reported having to wait. Additional operators have been put on duty for the testing hotline, which is 508-534-7103. Testing at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis takes place weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to noon, and appointments are required. Full details are available at BarnstableCountyHealth.org.

Relief is also on the way for small businesses impacted by the pandemic. Gov. Charlie Baker last week announced a $668 million relief package targeted at the hardest-hit businesses, including restaurants, recreation and entertainment establishments, gyms and retailers.

Funding for the program relies in part on the federal COVID-19 relief bill that was signed by President Donald Trump Sunday. The Baker Administration also announced $49 million in grants through the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation COVID-19 Small Business program which will help support 1,158 small businesses.

More than 10,000 businesses had sought relief from the fund, which was established in the fall. Pending applicants will be prioritized and do not need to reapply, according to a press release.

An additional grant program will target industries that have struggled most in the pandemic, including restaurants, bars and caterers; indoor recreation and entertainment; gyms and fitness centers; event-support professions such as photographers; personal services; and retail. The programs will offer grants of up to $75,000, but not more than three months' operating expenses, to pay employee wages and benefits, space costs and debt service.

An online application portal for the program opens today (Dec. 31) and will close Jan. 15. Awards will be announced in early February.