How to get a free COVID-19 test in Massachusetts

Coronavirus

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — New Bedford distributed free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests to residents for a second day, while Fall River handed out its supply of free test kits to the general public for the first time on Wednesday.

A total of 15,000 kits were available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Eastern Avenue, Globe Street and Stanley Street fire stations, according to the city. There was a limit of two kits per household, and recipients had to show proof of residency.

Cindy Rezende was in line to pick up free tests in Fall River because she planned to see her grandchildren over the holidays.

“I have to be safe, I have to protect them,” Rezende told 12 News.

Karen Methot told 12 News she wanted to have tests on hand, “just in case.”

“I’m 70-years-old. I got my vaccinations, I got my booster, but I’d rather have something at home that I know if I get any symptoms, I have it, I’m safe, and I can take it and go from there,” Methot said.

“This is serious. I’m sorry but it is, people are not taking it seriously enough,” she added.

Edward Ahaesy said he was in line to pick up free tests, because he had no luck finding them in Fall River or surrounding communities.

“So, when the opportunity came to get a couple of tests to have, I’ve got two kids and if I need to, I want to be able to test them,” Ahaesy said.

Currently, some retailers are limiting the number of at-home COVID-19 tests customers can buy due to high demand.

For example, Walgreens said in a statement the company “put in effect a four-item purchase limit on at-home COVID-19 testing products” both in stores and online.

Both Rhode Island and Massachusetts have distributed free at-home rapid tests to communities in need in recent days.

Massachusetts secured 2.1 million test kits, which would be delivered to 102 towns with the highest percentage of families below the poverty level. In total, the 102 municipalities account for nearly 3.7 million Massachusetts residents.

Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan says the city started handing out its supply of 38,000 test kits to community-based organizations first.

“Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, church-based groups that advocate for people that need extra support, some of our congregate housing, like the Housing Authority, People Incorporated,” Coogan said. “We got out as many as we could to people we think could benefit from them.”

Coogan says he hopes residents taking advantage of free test kits will be able to have some peace of mind, but advises anyone who tests positive to take the necessary steps for treatment, like contacting their primary care physician.

The mayor says if there’s an opportunity to get more tests for the city, he plans to take advantage. As of Dec. 14, the mayor’s office says Fall River is at 68.2% of residents who have received one dose, while 61.2% of residents are fully vaccinated.

“We belong in the seventies,” Coogan said. “A city like Fall River that’s been hit hard, we need to be in the seventies fully vaccinated, at a minimum.”

While some Massachusetts communities are handing out free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests, there are other ways to get a test if you can’t make it to a distribution site.

The state of Massachusetts and Labcorp are teaming up so residents can send away for a free at-home PCR COVID-19 test. (The Pixel by Labcorp COVID-19 PCR Test Home Collection Kit sells for $124.99 at some retail pharmacies.)

For all eligible individuals, the test is provided at no cost and is covered by one’s health insurance plan, or the federal government in lieu of an insurance plan.

To be eligible to receive the test at no cost, residents must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19 
  • Been recommended to receive testing by healthcare provider, public health department, or a contact investigator
  • Been exposed to COVID-19 
  • Live or work in a congregate setting

There are many test sites available for residents to visit, though the state notes these sites may require pre-screening, a referral and/or an appointment.

You can search for a site by entering your zip code to find a testing location closest to you, and also select certain criteria relevant to your search, like testing for children, non-residents for travel or testing available on weekends.

The state notes not to select the “free testing” option if you have any COVID symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who is COVID-positive, as testing at many locations will be provided at no cost if you have symptoms or were in close contact with a COVID-positive person. 

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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