New website helps track at-home COVID test results

Baker issues mask advisory as COVID cases increase across the state.

At home Test kits are available on the Island but are selling out fast. — Brian Dowd

The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health and Island Health Care have created a new website to help track positive test results from at-home COVID tests.

As at-home rapid COVID tests become more widely available, helps track cases with an easy to use interface. 

“All individuals testing positive through at home test kits are asked to please report their results so we can follow up with them and we can also have a better sense of the number of positive cases on the Island,” Tisbury health agent and boards of health spokesperson Maura Valley wrote in an email to The Times.

At-home test kits are selling like hotcakes on the Island. Amy Smith, a pharmacist at Vineyard Scripts, said they just received a large shipment of the tests, but they’re selling fast. 

David Holmberg, the manager of Leslie’s Pharmacy, said the store ran out of the tests yesterday and a shipment is backordered, but he’s been refreshing the order page frequently.

“I’m checking every two minutes,” he said. “We’ve sold 520 since the first of the month.”

Tammy Hersh at Conroy Apothecary said the store sold out yesterday as well, but expects a 300 test shipment to arrive this afternoon, if not then definitely tomorrow.

“We’re getting calls all day long about availability,” she said.

Free rapid at-home tests provided by the state are being distributed by the Island Food Pantry, councils on aging, and town halls, for people who may not be able to afford the tests being sold at pharmacies.

This comes as the Island has seen a significant spike in cases since the Thanksgiving holiday.

Meanwhile, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new mask advisory Tuesday as COVID numbers, propelled by the Omicron variant, continue to grow across Massachusetts. The Vineyard still has a mandatory indoor mask mandate in effect.

Speaking to reporters at a State House press conference Tuesday, Baker said residents are urged to wear masks in indoor settings, but he stopped short of a mandate.

“At this point in time we have vaccines, we have rapid tests, we have testing sites, and people know a lot more about what works and what doesn’t in respect to combatting the virus,” he said. “If people wish to add an extra layer of protection we would encourage them to do so especially when we have cases rising across the commonwealth.”

Baker stressed the importance of vaccinations and the booster shot as the best defense against COVID.

“Omicron is clearly going to become the most significant variant here in Massachusetts if it’s not already,” he said. “Vaccinated people may test positive, but their chances of dying or getting seriously ill are so small, they pale in comparison to so many riskier behaviors out there…And if you’re boosted, your risk of getting sick is even lower.”