Massachusetts Officials Taking Big Steps To Stop The Spread Of COVID

The governor announced a plan to distribute free-rapid at home COVID tests, saying it will be "a potential game-changer" this holiday season.
Posted at 9:01 PM, Dec 15, 2021

Two million free COVID-19 rapid tests are heading to residential homes in Massachusetts.

"Like vaccines, these rapid at home tests are a game changer as we continue to battle COVID here in the commonwealth," Governor Charlie Baker said.

The move comes as new COVID cases rise in the state.

Uyen Nguyen owns a business in Boston. She says she feels a sense of relief knowing her family will get home tests. 

"I think that's good," she said. "I think they know it how they try to control it."

Nguyen lost loved ones to COVID-19 and her business is starting to pick up after being hit hard.

About a hundred communities in Massachusetts will get test kits. One of them is the neighborhood of Dorchester where about 80% of residents are people of color.

These communities have the highest estimated percentage of families below the poverty level. 

Isiah Roberson lives in Dorchester.

"It frees up the hospitals from having to deal with COVID-19," he said.

Roberson is the full representation of the demographics. His mother is Afro-Caribbean from Honduras and his father is African and Native American. He thinks the tests help but says we cannot let our guards down.

"I think it's just taking proper precautions, still doing the social distancing, wearing masks — that's what's going to prevent it," Roberson said.

Dr. Paul Sax, an infection disease doctor and Harvard University professor, says the tests will prevent COVID outbreaks in school.

When asked if he though rapid tests could prevent the spread of COVID-19, he said: "It certainly could in individual cases, and I can think about of individual settings where it's going to be useful."

"If a kid has a cough or cold, they shouldn't go to school, period," Sax continued. "But especially if they test positive for COVID. And that's the kind of answer you can get quickly with a rapid test."

He said it's a good idea to keep tests at home.

"You're having a party and of the people at that party have weakened immune systems or they're medically vulnerable — Testing right before the party could be a very key way of preventing the spread of the virus to the most vulnerable people," Sax said.

He says making the home tests widely available is one of the main keys to control the pandemic.

The tests normally cost $30, but will be delivered free to these residents through a program that's paid for by the state. Distribution starts next week.