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Springfield Pharmacy pilots community-based COVID-19 rapid test center

From left: Massachusetts State Rep. Carlos González, an unidentified gentleman getting a rapid Covid-19 test and state Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders  and Springfield Pharmacy co-owner Andrew Wu test out the new machines.
Kari Njiiri
/
NEPM
From left: Massachusetts State Rep. Carlos González, an unidentified gentleman getting a rapid Covid-19 test and state Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and Springfield Pharmacy co-owner Andrew Wu test out the new machines.

An on-demand rapid COVID-19 testing site has opened in Springfield, in what officials are calling the first of its kind in Massachusetts.

Springfield Pharmacy, in the city's South End neighborhood, now has four antigen test machines that deliver results in 10 to 15 minutes.

State Rep. Carlos González said such community-based walk-in facilities are key to mitigating the spread of the virus.

"I think this is the future," he said during a demonstration of the machines for state Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders on Wednesday.

Andrew Wu, co-owner of the independent pharmacy, said the new technology will enable the pharmacy to deliver more services to individuals with limited access.

"Whether it be a prescription or testing for COVID-19. As we expand we hope to be able to offer not only this but other services as well to the community," he said.

The exterior of Springfield Pharmacy at 2547 Main St. in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Kari Njiiri
/
NEPM
The exterior of Springfield Pharmacy at 2547 Main St. in Springfield, Massachusetts.

González secured $75,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding for this pilot program.

"Having the regional centers that provide testing for individuals is great, but many of the residents I represent don't have an automobile," he said, adding that this provides much needed access to underserved communities.

Sudders said she anticipates these machines will become part of the state's ongoing COVID-19 strategy.

"We want to make sure people have rapid antigen testing in their homes and mobile capacity," she said. "This, in my mind, is the evolution of testing in Massachusetts."

She said she will look into whether the state can help reduce the cost of the machines, which are between $7,000 and $8,000 each.

Kari Njiiri is a senior reporter and longtime host and producer of "Jazz Safari," a musical journey through the jazz world and beyond, broadcast Saturday nights on NEPM Radio. He's also the local host of NPR’s "All Things Considered."