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Officials distribute COVID-19 test kits to local residents at Legion Hall

MILLERTON — Aiding local residents in securing an urgently needed resource after the holidays, the town of North East and village of Millerton combined forces to distribute their second allocation of COVID-19 test kits on Thursday, Jan. 6.

Even with the growing demand for COVID-19 tests across the country, North East town Supervisor Chris Kennan explained New York State has been able to get a hold of thousands of test kits and into the hands of counties to, in turn, distribute the kits to towns, villages and schools at no charge to residents.

Totaling 60 kits between the town and village, the first allocation of COVID-19 tests North East and Millerton received from the state were distributed in a giveaway before the holidays.

Combined with the tests received in the second allocation, 105 tests were doled out at the recent giveaway, which ran between 4 and 6 p.m. at the Millerton American Legion Post 178 on Route 44.

Kennan informed residents about last Thursday’s giveaway through an e-newsletter issued on Wednesday, Jan. 5. Similar to the two municipalities’ previous distribution, Kennan explained the latest giveaway of COVID-19 test kits would be determined “on the basis of one kit per household, on a first-come, first-served basis.

“In the interest of fairness, priority is being given to those who did not receive a test kit in the previous distribution,” Kennan wrote via e-newsletter, adding that residents of other communities are advised to check in with their respective municipal offices for COVID-19 test kit availability.

Twenty minutes before the distribution was set to begin, American Legion Post 178 Historian Sean Klay said cars were lining up along Route 44, waiting to pick up a test.

Anticipating a high volume of traffic, Klay said he went down to the Legion Hall to direct incoming vehicles through the parking lot and along the proper lanes of the parking lot.

All while keeping an eye on the number of tests available, Kennan and Millerton Deputy Mayor Alicia Sartori greeted residents at the entrance to the Post Hall and checked their address before handing over a kit containing two COVID-19 rapid tests. Within 45 minutes, all of the tests had been given away.

Given how quickly they ran out of kits, Kennan said, “I realized what a demand there is. People really want to be able to know they can visit their friends or older relatives and be safe, so it’s very important for people to feel that they have some idea of what’s going on because the omicron, in general, seems to be a milder case so it can be a little difficult to tell if it’s a bad cold or something else.”

Having contracted a mild case of COVID-19 himself before the holidays, Kennan said, “I think I felt it was probably inevitable that at some point — especially in a job where you do interact with people a fair bit — that I would get it.”

Kennan added he knew of others in town who tested positive for COVID. Luckily, he said his experience wasn’t severe, so it was more of an inconvenience and a disruption in his work and he has since recovered.

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