Warren and Fayston have purchased rapid antigen tests for town employees while Waitsfield has purchased KN95 masks for its employees. Moretown will consider such purchases at its next meeting. Towns are using ARPA funds to cover the costs.
Warren town clerk Reta Goss said that town health officer Jeff Campbell sources 120 boxes of tests (two tests per box) for $1,500 and said that the town allowed each department to sign out tests as needed.
“We’re trusting people to use them if they wake up with a sore throat to make sure it’s safe to come to work,” Goss said.
In December, the Waitsfield Select Board voted to purchase KN95 masks for town office staff and road crew members. Waitsfield has not taken action on buying rapid tests for its employees.
The Fayston Select Board, at a January 11 meeting, discussed how the 90 boxes of rapid tests the town purchased for $1,500 would be distributed.
“Who should these tests be for? Employees or people walking in?” board member Chuck Martel asked.
“The idea was, they were ordered and intended for employees. My question for you is about how they’re used. I’m a tester. I’d test often. There’s only 90 boxes and they’re not going to last long. When should we be giving them out – when someone has a cough or fever? Or do we just disburse them and let that be the decision of the employee,” asked town clerk and select board assistant Patti Lewis.
Board member Mike Jordan said he felt the tests were appropriate for asymptomatic people as symptomatic people shouldn’t be coming in to work.
“I think we really need to rely on everyone’s good judgment in using these tests, and Patti, you don’t need to test every day,” board chair Jared Cadwell suggested.
Maybe it’s just a simple thing – they’re here if people think they need them, but not for going to visit your mom this weekend,” he added.
Martel said that having tests available should be to ensure that the town can function and that all staff can be present.
“We’ll let paid staff know that tests are available and if they’re showing COVID symptoms, they should take a test,” Jordan said.
Cadwell asked Lewis if the plan was clear enough or if she’d prefer a more specific policy.
“I’m not sure. Maybe it is a wait and see situation. Just let everybody know they’re here,” she said.
The tests are not for the general public in any of the towns that have purchased them so far.