BOSTON — Last week, the Baker-Polito administration announced that an order was placed with iHealth to supply the state with 26 million rapid antigen tests over the next three months. The tests will be prioritized to support K-12 schools and childcare settings. The agreement allows for shipments of tests to arrive on a rolling basis in the Commonwealth, but the administration warns that the timing and shipment amounts will vary depending on international shipping and production variables.
The administration also released a public-health advisory to advise all residents on when to seek tests for COVID-19. The advisory advises all residents to seek COVID-19 tests when exhibiting COVID symptoms, or five days following a known close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID pursuant to Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH) quarantine and isolation protocols, updated on Dec. 29 in accordance with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new isolation protocols do not require a COVID-19 test to exit isolation after having COVID. This general rule also applies to childcare and K-12.
The new quarantine protocols recommend, but do not require, all exposed individuals get a test five days after exposure. Exposed individuals do not need to quarantine if fully vaccinated and not yet eligible to receive a booster, if fully vaccinated and having received a booster, or if they had COVID and it is less than 90 days since they were diagnosed.
DPH advises that a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen does not need to be confirmed with a PCR test.
DPH recommends individuals that have COVID symptoms and test negative with a rapid antigen test should isolate and either repeat an antigen test or get a PCR test in 24 to 48 hours if they continue to exhibit symptoms. Additionally, DPH does not advise employers, or schools and childcare, to require a test as a condition of returning to work or school.