BOSTON (WWLP/Mass.gov) – Governor Baker announced that his administration will distribute over two million rapid at-home COVID-19 tests to 102 communities that were the hardest hit by the pandemic.
The tests will be free of charge and will be coming from I-Health labs. They will be delivered this week throughout the Commonwealth by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard. Rapid at-home tests can be done in 15 minutes and are a fast, easy, and convenient way to test for COVID.
The Baker administration continues to urge residents to get vaccinated especially as we head into the holidays. So far, just over 6-million residents or 75-percent of Massachusetts’ population is fully vaccinated. About 1.5-million residents have gotten a booster shot.
List of cities and towns to receive at-home test kits:
- Fall River
- Great Barrington
- Mount Washington
- New Bedford
- New Braintree
- North Adams
- North Attleborough
- Oak Bluffs
- South Hadley
- West Boylston
- West Springfield
- West Stockbridge
How communities were selected
The 102 municipalities in the Commonwealth with the highest proportion of families living below the Federal Poverty Level are receiving iHealth Labs OTC at-home rapid antigen test kits. All twenty of the Commonwealth’s most disproportionately impacted equity communities were included by these criteria. In total, the 102 municipalities account for nearly 3.7 million Massachusetts residents.
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.
About the testing kits
The iHealth Labs COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits can be done at home. They are a fast, easy and convenient way to test for COVID-19. The tests can be completed in 15 minutes without the need to send a sample to a laboratory. Mobile phones or computers are not needed for any part of the test. Individuals 2 years of age and older can use the tests regardless of vaccination status or whether or not they have symptoms.
At-home rapid antigen test kits will be distributed proportionally across the 102 communities according to the proportion of their families below the Federal Poverty Level threshold. Distribution to municipalities will be run by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency in partnership with the Massachusetts National Guard.
Residents can also visit local pharmacies or order online to purchase rapid test kits on their own, as needed.
COVID-19 rapid tests are one of many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, that protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.
What do I do if my test is positive?
It can take a few days to get your test results and while you are waiting, you should stay home and limit your contact with anyone else. If you test positive for COVID-19, you should self-isolate until you are no longer infectious, and notify your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Stay home except to get medical care
- Stay home. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care. Do not leave your home, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas.
- Self-isolation means separating yourself from others to keep your germs from spreading.
Monitor your symptoms
- If you feel like you need medical care, call ahead before visiting your doctor.
- Look for emergency warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, call 9-1-1 to seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Notify your close contacts
- Call your close contacts to notify them of your positive result
- Unvaccinated close contacts should self-quarantine (stay home and limit contact with anyone else).
- Encourage them to get tested at a COVID-19 Testing Site
A close contact is someone you have been inside with and were within 6 feet of for at least 10-15 minutes while symptomatic or in the 2 days before symptom onset. You can be a close contact of someone who didn’t have symptoms if you were inside with them or and were within 6 feet of for at least 10-15 minutes in the 10 days after they tested positive or in the 2 days before their positive test was taken. A close contact can also be someone who had direct contact with the droplets of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on) while not wearing a mask or face covering.
If you need help getting resources to self-isolate or self-quarantine
- Call your local board of health. They can link you to resources to help you be able to stay home.
What are the different types of COVID-19 testing?
There are 2 types of COVID-19 testing: Virus Testing and Antibody Testing.
Virus testing is the type that tells you if you currently have COVID-19. These tests are typically done using a nasal swab, oral swab, or saliva sample, and then sent to a lab. There are two types of this testing:
- Molecular tests (also often called PCR tests) detect the presence of viral genetic materials and are considered the gold standard test.
- Antigen tests are rapid tests which detect the presence of certain proteins on the surface of the virus. These tests can be performed at point-of-care or at home and are available over-the-counter. BinaxNOW Antigen Test Abstract | Graph
Antibody testing detects the presence of antibodies to COVID-19 in your blood. Antibodies are produced during an infection with COVID-19 or by vaccination.
- Important to know: At this time, most people don’t need antibody tests and they should not be used to guide decisions on whether to stop isolation or return to work. Currently, we do not know what level of antibodies in your blood means that you are immune from further infection with COVID-19.