The first free and rapid home COVID tests are being distributed in Massachusetts, but the communities that have received them find that they have to be strategic to distribute them – there are not enough kits for everyone.
On Thursday, Revere began distributing some of the test kits to families at a food distribution site. The city’s goal is to get the most vulnerable people tested as quickly as possible, which is why city officials have started a place where they serve those in need.
“When it comes to being able to spend money on a test or pay bills, we prefer to provide them with the tests,” said Ralph Decicco, Revere’s food center coordinator.
Cities and towns representing more than half of the state’s population will begin receiving free and rapid COVID-19 tests to distribute to residents on Tuesday as part of Governor Charlie Baker’s new strategy to control the spread of the virus this holiday season.
For Kevin Mahoney, a Revere resident and Vietnam Veteran, the test kit was a welcome gift.
“Does that mean I can get tested and don’t have to leave my house? It’s amazing,” said Mahoney.
Revere was one of 102 communities selected by the state to receive the free tests. The city received around 27,000.
The rest of the kits will be distributed to places like churches and nonprofits. Next week, a test kit will come home with every school-aged child in Revere.
“If you get them, please use them. They are not just a must have. They are going to benefit you and your family and keep everyone safe,” Deccico said.
Quincy is also in the process of deploying a test distribution strategy. They have delivered some of their supplies to shelters and other partner organizations, but the city will also distribute them to the health department on Saturday.
“They are extremely hard to find. The calls started coming in two weeks before Thanksgiving. People were looking for tests. They want to be safe,” Quincy Health Commissioner Marli Caslli said.
Those who want a test kit in Quincy can call the health department before Saturday to reserve one. The city expects to run out well before Christmas and will work to secure more in the New Year.
“Our biggest goal is to get more tests ASAP. We can’t get them fast enough,” Caslli said.
More than 2 million COVID-19 rapid home tests are ordered to help cope with the increase in infections, and many residents are starting to congregate indoors for the holidays. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker made the announcement Monday morning, saying testing will be done in 102 cities identified as having the most low-income residents and the highest infection rates.
When Gov. Charlie Baker announced the free testing strategy, he said he hoped people would use the tests before getting together with friends and family, especially indoors when everyone’s immunization status. world is not known.
“The most important element in this regard is to make rapid tests available on a large scale for communities which have, in many cases, a lot of people who will not be able to buy them on our own, to make these tests available. so they can test themselves before heading to rallies or other large indoor events, ”Baker said at a State House press conference on Tuesday.
With only a limited number of tests distributed, they can easily be wasted if not used correctly. Chelsea City Manger Lourdes Alvarez invited NBC10 Boston to City Hall Thursday night to get a first look at new rapid COVID tests that some residents will soon be able to use at home.
Massachusetts residents are starting to get their hands on the free COVID home tests that Gov. Charlie Baker says is aimed at low-income, high-transmission cities. It is important to use the test kit correctly. NBC10 Boston reporter Oscar Margain tried one on Thursday.
Alvarez says each box comes with two iHealth tests, along with instructions that should be followed carefully.
“Take your time, wash your hands, just select where you get tested and do it all at the same time,” Alvarez said.
Each box contains two small containers with solution, two swabs and two test strips. Once you have followed the instructions for taking the test, you should wait 15 minutes for the result.
The test strip will show either two lines – which means positive for COVID – or a single line, which means the test is negative.
According to the testing company, iHealth, their tests are 94-98% accurate if done correctly. Otherwise, the results may be inaccurate, the test is wasted, and you could be spreading COVID unknowingly.
“We reach nearly 200 cases of COVID every week here in Chelsea,” said Cristina Alonso, health equity director of La Colaborativa.
It’s a challenge facing local community organizations like La Colaborativa, one of the many nonprofits helping distribute tests in a city hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Alonso is coordinating efforts to distribute 8,000 boxes – four boxes per household – before people gather for the holidays.
“Do these quick tests right before we get together so that we know whether or not we have COVID,” Alonso said.
One problem with iHealth test kits is that there are no instructions in Spanish in the box, nor on the website or app. Chelsea is an area with a large Latino population, and the city has said it will provide its own Spanish instruction to residents who need it.
The State House News Service contributed to this report.