Who Took Our Hamilton Covid Test Kits?

Written by Barbara Smith,

Concerned Hamilton Citizen and Activist Blogger for transparency in government.


Citizen Concerns on Hamilton Wenham Facebook Page

On Monday, December 20th, a citizen asked the following reasonable and important question on the Hamilton Wenham Community Facebook page: Does anyone know how or better yet when Hamilton is distributing the rapid tests that they were given?

On Tuesday, December 21st I asked one of the Select Board Members what was going on and he/she responded that the town was expecting to receive tests kits but had no idea where they went or how they were distributed. He/she contacted the members of the Board of Health and other select board members AND, nobody admitted to knowing where the test kits were.

This was shocking to me! Hence, I am outraged on behalf of myself because I treasure government transparency and also all the Hamilton citizens who were meant to receive test kits during the holiday travel week. The tests are meant to keep us all safe. In addition, there was no MENTION OR DISCUSSION of test kits and how to distribute them at the Monday, December 20th Select Board meeting.

According to the Massachusetts government page, Hamilton was supposed to receive 3,780 test kits.

Yup, that’s 3,780 test kits.

According to the 2020 census, the population of Hamilton is 7,561. Let’s compare these numbers with Hamilton demographics. I have no idea how accurate this data is but according to Quick City Info there are:

  • a total of 2,168 households in Hamilton
  • there are 1,082 family households with children under age 18
  • 668 households include people over age 65 years.
  • women aged 65- 69 years: 66
  • women aged 70-74 years: 92
  • women aged 75-79 years: 99
  • women aged 80-84 years: 84
  • women aged 85 plus years: 70
  • men aged 65-69 years : 152
  • men aged 70-74 years: 88
  • men aged 75-79 years: 80
  • men aged 80-84 years: 60
  • men aged 85 plus years : 40

I’m focusing on the town’s senior citizens because they (including myself) are most at risk of suffering serious health issues as a result of Covid. These are our most vulnerable citizens. According to the above statistics- residents ages 65 and older total at 931.

It is my humble opinion that since there has been a test kit shortage crisis in Massachusetts, it is logical in order to save lives, to give Commonwealth’s gift of the test kits to the most vulnerable population- senior citizens This decision should be made by our elected officials not individuals who think that they should make policy decisions, major, life-impacting decisions.

Massachusetts Distribution Guidelines

According to the state website- Massachusetts has secured 2.1 million Health Labs over the counter (OTC) at-home rapid antigen tests. These kits will be delivered later this week to more than 100 municipalities with a larger proportion of families facing financial hardship. Building on a first in the nation statewide free “Stop the Spread” COVID-19 testing infrastructure, these OTC rapid antigen test kits will serve as another tool to combat COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

Hamilton qualified as a community with a high enough percentage of families facing financial hardship and so was given the 3,780 test kits. That sounds like more than enough to provide care for all of the senior citizens in town, including me. But it is important to point out that although the state used financial hardship to determine which towns to provide the kits to, financial hardship is not a criterion for how the distribution process unfolds and which residents get priority. That question is the responsibility of the town’s leadership to determine. The town leadership consists of

  • 5 elected select board members who supervise the town manager
  • Board of Health
  • The town manager who is supervised by the 5 board of select members.

Since there is a test kit shortage and huge demand, it makes sense to distribute the kits according to who most needs them, rather than financial status. In other words, the leaders needed to priortize saving lives, not institute a financial needs based program.

Doesn’t the Board of Select make these types of decisions?

On Tuesday and Wednesday December 21 and 22, residents were growing eager to access the scarce tests, they wanted to travel or have guests and to be safely tested. Residents continued to ask on the Hamilton Wenham Community FB page ‘Where are the test kits”. Four days ago, a non-elected town resident seemed to have the answers! she/he explained that

  • The BOH is coordinating
  • tests kits will not be available to all Hamilton residents and
  • the test kits are not intended for all residents, more so for the ones for whom buying them off the shelf is cost prohibitive.


Another resident commented and asked the obvious questions on the same thread that the city of Salem provided 2 kits per household. Given the unavailability of tests why would income factor into the distribution equation?

Four days ago on Tuesday, December 21, a Hamilton resident commented on the FB community page- that it had been a week since the State announced the free tests that would be available in 102 MA cities and towns, including Hamilton. However, the Hamilton BOH had not released any information on how they plan to distribute the tests.Meanwhile , other towns had gotten the tests out to the people who needed them.

On Wednesday December 22 Town Manager, Joe Domelowicz Jr. posted the following statement on the Hamilton website.


Here are the highlights of his statements:

  • the town would have discretion in how the tests would be distributed
  • After consultation with state DPH officials, the staff of the Hamilton Health Dept, in collaboration with Board of Health Chair David Smith and Town manager Joseph Domelowicz a process was developed to distribute the kits.

Why were the Board of Select and Board of Health kept in the dark on this? There is a need for clarification and why did an unauthorized person share on the HW community misinformation and why did she/he ( who is not a town elected official) know more than our town elected officials ?

In addition, the town manager’s statement explained that certain recipient groups would get priority in receiving the tests. Its unclear as to who (we deserve to know WHO) decided this, but the lucky chosen would include:

  • Congregate care/Hamilton Housing Authority residents
  • • Senior Citizens
  • Acord food pantry client families
  • Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary students/ families who are on MassHealth or who are otherwise low income and cannot easily afford these tests.
  • Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District families whom the district staff know to be likely experiencing economic hardship or distress
  • Asbury Grove residents
    • Homebound individuals
    • Others who are known to the town to be in need of this support.
  • Test kits were distributed to directors or coordinators of facilities such as the Senior Center, Chaiur of Council on Aging,
  • Acord Food Pantry
  • Gordon Conwell
  • Hamilton Fire Department
  • Hamilton wenham regional school school district nurse
  • Hamilton public health nurse

While it is wonderful and appropriate that some Hamilton residents did receive test kits through these avenues, we still need to understand why

  • young, healthy college students had preference over older, vulnerable long term, Hamilton residents
  • allottments to Acord went to other towns that are serviced by the program. Therefore, test kits that were meant for Hamilton residents, went elsewhere.
  • Why didn’t the HWRSD students who live in Hamilton get their household allottment as any other child or adult household would, through the same mechanisms? Did students who attend HWRSD , but live in other towns receive the test kits meant for Hamilton residents? I have no idea about this, but I am wondering…..
  • Did test kits go to Asbury Grove residents who do not live there all year? Again I do not know, but am wondering.

Many senior citizens who live in Hamilton, such as myself never received test kits because we are not serviced by the above organizations. However, we active, older folks are still at higher risk of contracting COVID than younger populations, including college students…..

Distribution in Other Towns

This article explains the distribution process in Beverly. Every resident received a test kit on Tuesday, December 21.

It doesn’t seem that complex, if the elected officials are notified so that they can then perform their jobs.

Holding People Accountable

There are a lot of questions that I am eager to see answered. We need transparency in government in order to have trust in our elected officials. That is what makes a real Democracy.

Our newly elected state representative, Jamie Belsito seems to care about the problem with the missing Hamilton test kits. She is so concerned that she will be working with her colleagues to figure out where they went and how they got distributed without knowledge of the Hamilton Board of Select and Board of Health. I am hoping that she finds out why this happened and WHO was involved in making it happen. I believe that we need transparency. DON’T YOU?

The above was posted Thursday, December 23, on the state representative’s facebook page.


  1. I am appalled. I was hoping to have a test kit in the HW allotment of kits. I will need to go out of town to the Rowley CVS in hopes of being able to buy a kit when the doors open at 7AM. The pharmacist warned me the lines will be crazy.

    1. I am hoping that the Select Board meeting tonight will shed some light on what happened to the test kits in Hamilton. I will be sharing what I learn…. Best of luck in finding what you need and stay safe….

  2. I am absolutely appalled to see the Hamilton Democrats stooping to this kind of nonsense. I grew up in Hamilton and have come to expect these kind of conspiracy scare tactics from the Republican Party, but had to check it out for myself when I heard that the DEMOCRATIC party was loosing its head over the distribution of tests to vulnerable populations in town. Seriously, what has this group come to. I feel like I’m reading “Cape Ann Republican’s” page.

    1. Hi Isaac,
      I remember how you bullied me on a private messenger thread because I complained about your friend spreading lies about her/his nonpreferred candidate for state rep (the candidate who did not sign a fidelity pledge) , when the primary was just beginning. Please explain why you call facts a conspiracy theory. Your friend made claims on the hw community page that she/he knew that the board of health was distributing the test kits with BOH involvement. Yet, the BOH director who did a great job knew nothing about the test kits being removed and distributed to other towns. If you watch the video of the board of select meeting, town manager admitted his/her fault (as he/she should and I give him/her credit and praise for having the courage to do so) in not notifying the BOH and select board before taking actions to distribute the test kits out of hamilton. He/she admits his mistake and we can move on. Except your friend has failed to explain her/his undue knowledge and role in this whole fiasco . Test kits that were designated for hamilton were distributed to other communities at the expense of our hamilton residents and people have suffered. I am 67 years old and never received the test kit designated for me. Meanwhile, young, healthy gordon conwell students got some, I assume due to the faith based distribution system that somehow got pushed through. Im not sure about the evidence on this last statement, but at the boh meeting, I learned that test kits went to wenham as well as essex and topsfield and Gordon Conwell was part of a list of organizations involved in distribution. If you have any other information, please share it. By the way, it is irrelevant what YOUR opinion is on where the tests should be distributed. The state and town have rules on how to run government. That’s what Democracy is and I am fighting for democracy. Our government is run by rules and the board of health and select board are not supposed have an unelected unauthorized individuallike your friend running our government behind our backs. Nobody elected her/him and she is out of control…..None of this has anything to do with being a Republican or Democrat. Residents in Hamilton suffered because of your friend’s actions and obvious misinformation on the community page.

      1. Your personal attack against me is uncalled for and unbecoming of an administrator of the Hamilton DTC. I am a lifelong Democrat and have earned the right to express my disapproval of how the party is conducting itself here.

        I never bullied you Barbara. You asked a group that we were mutually involved in to check out Darcy Dale during the primary. I did, and I shared what I found including hours of timestamped select board meetings where her obstructionism and unprofessionalism were on full display. The group was able to see for themselves that Darcy was not helpful to the causes we cared about and it appears that the vast majority of voters agreed. There is a difference between being opposed, and being bullied.

        In that spirit, let me answer you question about why this “missing test fiasco” is a conspiracy theory.

        First the facts:
        1)The State distributed COVID-19 test kits to the towns based on the percentage of citizens facing financial hardship and “each city or town will determine how best to distribute tests within their community, with an emphasis on increasing access for individuals and families who are facing financial hardship.” https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-self-test-distribution

        2) The Hamilton BOH distributed the test kits to a number of organizations within town to handle distribution. https://www.hamiltonma.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Statement-regarding-at-Home-test-kits_JD1221-dbs.pdf

        3)The Town Manager oversaw this process, but did not keep the Select Board apprised and has apologized for this oversight.

        4)On the community page when people were asking what happened with the tests, Anna explained the above just as I am now.

        So now that the facts are out of the way let me explain the insinuations that make this a conspiracy theory.

        1). You have taken the fact that Anna understood the process as evidence that she made, (or at least influenced) the decision. She didn’t.

        2) You repeatedly refer to Anna as unelected, (She is an elected member of the school board)

        3). You claim that the tests were meant for you. (They were not, look at the State guidance)

        4). You repeatedly assert that the tests were “Sent” to other towns. (They were not, the tests were distributed in town)

        5) You claim that deciding how the tests are distributed is the purview of the Select Board. (The select board sets town policy and strategic direction. Administrative functions, such as the distribution of test kits, are typically handled by their relevant boards, in this case the Board of Health)

        I do not think that you made any of these errors out of malice, but think you probably misunderstood the Board of Health when they said that they didn’t decide how to distribute the tests. (They distributed them to the groups they outline and but didn’t set policy for how those groups distributed them) I also notice a pattern of making Anna a boogieman, and I worry that Darcy’s personal animosity has blinded you. You said, “it is irrelevant what YOUR opinion is on where the tests should be distributed. The state and town have rules on how to run government.” I have made no claims about how the tests should be distributed. There are other ways that it could have been done. What I hope I have done is to shed some light on what the rules actually were and the fact that the rules were followed. You can claim until you’re blue in the face that you think you should have been given a free test, but as you have said, “YOUR opinion is irrelevant”.

        1. Hi Isaac,
          Im sorry if I offended you. I am seeking facts and will continue to rebut untruths with the facts shared on the Hamilton Website and public government meetings. I have reviewed the sequence of events several times which are as follows in a nutshell” test kits went to town manager’s office for distribution. The Board of Health and Board of Select were kept hidden from this. Someone unauthorized, went on the hamilton wenham community facebook page and told the community that the BOH was involved with the distribution. When residents called the BOh, they were notified that they knew nothing at that critical time period. As part of followup, the BOS and BOH clarified with town manager that he answers to the BOS, not a random citizen in how tests are distributed. He apologized both on the town site and via video at the 1/3 BOS meeting . As a result of unauthorized actions, test kits went to various organizations for distribution instead of directly to each household as planned. Some of the test kits left Hamilton and our residents were lacking the critical tests at a time of high travel for the holidays and Hamilton residents suffered due to this situation. The BOS and BOH and town manager are currently working together to move forward with communication policies and the government hierarchy of officials and their responsibilities in place. That is how democracy works and I am happy to share that on the Hamilton Wenham Liberals for Democracy FB page. Being an elected school committee member for 2 towns does not make that person authorized to share misinformation on the town community site about matters unrelated to school administration. She/he was not elected to do that, the BOS was. I am still waiting for an explanation on how a resident could make claims that the BOH was involved in the distribution when they did not know about it until much after the fact. Can you explain it?
          How do you make a claim that the tests were not sent to other towns? Do you have insider evidence to prove that? I don’t really understand why you are spending so much time on this issue. Is it a vendetta because I chose to seek truth and not follow the unelected, faith-based leader of a nonprofit that receives unlimited dark monies and seems to be against the human rights of anyone who does not follow orders? I am proud to be an atheist, although that is irrelevant , but I will not sit idly by while religious groups get involved in government policy. That is unconsitutional and separation of church and state are very important to me and should be to you , also….

  3. Using your administrator privileges’ to slander me as a “bully” for disagreeing with you and blocking my rebuttal is both inappropriate and unprofessional. (not to mention the behavior of a bully) Thank you for taking down your inappropriate slander of my mother but you really need to think before you respond on here. You are speaking with the voice of the Town Democratic Party, not your own.

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