TestMV, a comprehensive coronavirus testing facility, is now open at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. A collaborative effort involving the Island Health Center, Quest Diagnostics, and the Island boards of health, TestMV has a goal of testing everyone on the Island for Covid-19. What follows are some questions and answers about the testing, based on information provided by the organizers. If you have additional questions, please email us at news@mvgazette.com and we will attempt to find answers.

Should I get tested?

The testing at the high school is available to everyone on the Island -- visitors as well as residents -- aged 18 and older. It is intended for people who do not show symptoms of Covid-19. People who are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus should call their primary care provider or the Martha's Vineyard Hospital call center at 508-684-4500.

If I don’t have symptoms, why get a test?

People can carry the virus without exhibiting symptoms. In addition, testing everyone on the Island will enable public health officials to gain a better understanding of the virus’s spread and take steps to prevent outbreaks.

Will the test show whether I have had the virus in the past?

No. The test will tell patients if they currently have the virus, not whether they have had the virus or whether they carry viral antibodies. 

Is the test painful?

Not at all.  The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is self-administered, easy and painless. It involves a shallow swab of both nostrils for about 15 seconds.

How do I schedule a test?

You must make an appointment. To schedule a test, call 1-877-336-9855. The call center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The testing site at the high school is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with a one-hour lunch break at noon. Only those with appointments will be seen.

Who gets priority for the tests?

Priority in the initial weeks of testing was given to public safety officials and first responders, medical and dental personnel, grocery store and convenience store workers, emergency food workers, public transportation employees, municipal employees and other essential business workers with public contact, individuals 65 years or older, those with chronic health conditions, and those living in congregate housing. It has since been expanded to include anyone who wants a test, though front-line workers and high-risk individuals may get earlier appointments.

Do I need to be a full-time Island resident?

No. Seasonal residents and visitors are welcome to be tested.

Can I get tested more than once?

Yes. Periodic tests are recommended, especially for people in the high-risk groups.

Does the test cost money?

No. All insurance providers are required to fully cover the cost of the test. For those without insurance, funding is available thanks to the Martha’s Vineyard Bank to ensure that anyone who wants a test can receive one without payment.

How does the test work?

The test is a self-administered, PCR nasal swab. Patients will enter the parking lot through the northwest entrance to the facility off the Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road, and be directed to loop around to a greeting tent near the Performing Arts Center. A licensed clinician will then place a testing kit that includes a small tube with the viral medium, as well as the nasal swab, on the windshield or side window of the car. The clinician will observe the patient administer the test, which involves twisting the swab in the shallow portion of each nasal cavity for approximately 15 seconds. The patient is then directed to break off the swab, place it in the medium, and hand it back to the licensed clinician. The entire process takes from five to 10 minutes, according to public health officials.

Can I get a test if I don’t have a car?

Yes. Along with the three drive-through lanes at the high school, there will also be a tent for patients who do not have a vehicle.

How will I find out my results?

Although officials initially stated that results would be available between 24 to 48 hours after the test is administered, they have clarified to state that results will generally be processed within two business days. A spokesman for the testing site said patients who test negative will receive either a text or robocall by the 3rd business day with their results. Public health officials have said that individuals who receive a test should be prepared to answer the phone, even if they notice unusual area codes, including 833 or 857. They have also advocated for downloading the MyQuest app as a faster alternative to check for test results. 

What happens if I test positive?

Patients who test positive will be contacted by a contact tracer or their local board of health via telephone. The contact tracer will guide the patient through a series of questions, hoping to identify close contacts. Positive patients will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days, or until released from monitoring by public health officials. During this period, positive patients cannot go to public spaces, including the grocery store, and patients are only allowed to leave isolation to seek medical attention. Resources are in place through volunteer groups and Island Health Care to help provide essential services for people who need to isolate, including grocery shopping and food delivery.

Who else will know about my test results?

The results of the test are only available to public health officials and select medical professionals on the Island, and are otherwise required to remain confidential. Although tests results are entered into the state’s public health database, MAVEN, that data is only available as an aggregate. Individual test results remain confidential.

How can I help with this program?

Volunteers are needed to help in clinical, administrative and logistical capacities at the high school. Those interested in volunteering, including licensed medical professionals, should email islandhealthcaremv@gmail.com.