UPDATE: Some free rapid tests arrive

At-home test kits like these are still available for free from town health departments. — Brian Dowd

Update Jan. 4

Thousands of free rapid COVID test kits have arrived on Martha’s Vineyard and are being prepped for distribution as part of a program through the federal government. 

Town boards of health will distribute the 4,050 test kits from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm beginning Tuesday and will continue until supplies last. Tests will be distributed at board of health offices. Town websites will offer specific town-by-town information. Edgartown requires pre-registration for pickup at Atlantic Avenue near the Norton Point Beach Entrance. Information will be available on its website at 6 pm.

Proof of residency through the census list or by presenting residency proof is required.

The first batch of test kits includes 400 kits for Island Health Care and 1,350 for Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. 

Hospital test kits will be used for patients and staff, according to hospital communications specialist Marissa Lefebvre.

Anyone who tests positive with an at home test is strongly encouraged to report their results to rapidtestmv.org. The website contains directions in both English and Protuguese. 

The test kits were announced last week in a press release.

“As part of the federal government’s program to distribute free rapid COVID tests, Island Health Care, the towns’ public health boards and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will collectively receive 4,050 test kits in the next few weeks,” the release states. “Each test kit contains two rapid COVID tests. HRSA, the Health Resources and Services Administration, which is managing the national rollout, expects to be able to continue supplying free tests to local communities into the spring.”

The tests come with instructions on how to properly administer the tests, according to the release. “Videos, both in English and Portuguese, demonstrating proper use will be available on rapidtestmv.org,” the release states. “Health agents ask that anyone receiving a positive test go to the website to register a positive result and review the state’s recommended guidelines for isolation.”

Here’s the breakdown of where the tests will be distributed:

  • IHC will distribute 400 tests
  • Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will distribute 1,350 tests
  • Aquinnah will receive 49 tests; Chilmark 136; Edgartown 579; Oak Bluffs 598; Vineyard Haven 539 and West Tisbury 398. The calculations were based on population.

According to the release, a second order has already been placed with HRSA. That order requests that 10,800 kits be distributed in the same formula Island wide. Future orders placed by IHC will be based on demand.

The arrival of rapid tests comes as the Island is experiencing a significant uptick in cases.

The clamor for testing is apparent at TestMV, the PCR test site operating on the grounds of the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury, the release states. “IHC’s Executive Director Cynthia Mitchell noted that in recent weeks as the numbers of positive tests have climbed, particularly during a period where Islanders have either been traveling or entertaining mainland guests, the demand for tests has increased to roughly 300 a week. Prior to the spike in positive cases — believed to be driven by Omicron as well as Delta variants — TestMV was recording half that number on a weekly basis,” the release states.

“We need all the tools we can get to keep our infection rate as low as possible,” Mitchell said in the release. “Home tests have become nearly impossible to find and we must make sure that cost is not preventing families from taking sound public health measures to stay safe.”

The Island remains under a mandatory indoor mask mandate.

“While the availability of free, rapid home tests is welcome news, it should not be viewed as a panacea,” Matt Poole, Edgartown’s public health agent, said in the release. “Everyone should still wear masks indoors when encountering people outside their immediate family, maintain a healthy distance of six feet or more outdoors, and get vaccinated and boosted. There are no shortcuts in this pandemic.”

Specific town distribution sites are currently being determined and Islanders are encouraged to check town websites for locations in the next week.

Updated with information about the arrival of the tests and hospital tests.


  1. Should we test ourselves once a day or every four hours? How many test kits can we get each day? If we are positive in the morning but negative twice in the afternoon what should we do? Asking for a friend.

  2. John– your friend is not required to take any tests. If your friend has a job and their employer requires it, they can take the test or quit. It’s a free country after all. If your friend does take a test and it returns a positive result, then your friend can go to the vet and get Ivermectin and then go home pray, and ask all their friends to pray for them also. Or they can shine a flashlight down their throat or inject some sort of disinfectant. They can even go to the hospital. The dedicated public servants at the hospital seem to still be willing to treat people who do not respect their efforts and do not believe in the science behind what they do.
    That’s why we refer to them as hero’s. They will put their lives on the line for your friend even if your friend does not take common sense precautions against this plague.

    And as I said, this is a free country– your friend can get on a plane, bus, train or any kind of vehicle and go to the land of the free. Florida that is. And according to the “don’t look uppers”, Florida doesn’t have a covid problem. That’s obvious because the liberal media is claiming that Florida currently has the highest infection rate in the country, and the liberal media always lies.

  3. The Jan 3 update says info on the town websites at 6 PM today. I’ve been refreshing the site since 6 PM and nothing on Edgartown site since their 12.29.21 website homepage update. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Comments are closed.