At-home results: Worcester begins distributing nearly 70,000 COVID-19 test kits

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Alisa DeLeo moves cases of home COVID-19 test kits at Union Station on Friday. DeLeo is a logistics specialist with the city Department of Emergency Communications & Management.
Alisa DeLeo moves cases of home COVID-19 test kits at Union Station on Friday. DeLeo is a logistics specialist with the city Department of Emergency Communications & Management.

WORCESTER — The city began distributing its allocation of COVID-19 rapid test kits Friday, partnering with an extensive network of nonprofits, faith-based organizations and social service agencies.

The goal is to get nearly 70,000 kits into the hands of the most vulnerable and help stop the spread of the virus.

“I think this is a glimmer of hope,” city Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh said while standing among pallets of test kits in the bowels of Union Station. “2022 is going to be better with your help and using these tests.”

More: Holiday preparation: State wants to distribute free COVID-19 test kits

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that the state Department of Public Health would distribute more than 2 million rapid antigen test kits to communities hard-hit by and most vulnerable to COVID.

The city of Worcester received 67,770 kits, each of which contains two tests, for a total of 135,540 tests.

In northern Worcester County, Fitchburg distributed free test kits Saturday.

The city is tapping into its network of nonprofit, faith-based organizations and social service agencies to distribute the kits.

Many, for instance, will go out with food from food banks; others will be available for seniors at the Worcester Senior Center, and, while supplies last, at the vaccination clinic at the Worcester Public Library on Saturday.

More than 50,000 test kits were to be distributed Friday.

Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, city medical director, talks about the importance of home COVID-19 test kits to be distributed through various agencies. Mayor Joseph Petty looks on.
Dr. Michael P. Hirsh, city medical director, talks about the importance of home COVID-19 test kits to be distributed through various agencies. Mayor Joseph Petty looks on.

The goal is to get the kits to those who are most susceptible to the virus and may not have the resources to either buy the kits at a local pharmacy (the kits retail for roughly $25) or get tested at UMass Memorial Health’s testing and vaccination clinic at Mercantile Center.

The effort comes amid an important time.

First, the holidays are coming; and people are traveling and gathering. This led to increased cases last year and after this Thanksgiving.

“We’re anxious to get as many out before the holiday as possible,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said.

Secondly, the highly transmissible omicron variant threatens.

Hirsh said that based on the increasing number of cases in the city, his “suspicion” is that the omicron variant is here in Worcester, although he noted that there has been no confirmed omicron cases.

With these challenges, officials said vaccinations and regular testing are key to keeping case numbers down and people out of the hospital.

“Let’s have a great holiday and let’s be safe,” Tim Garvin, president and CEO of the United Way of Central Massachusetts and also an organizer with the Worcester Together collective, said Friday.

Communities receiving in-home test kits

Adams

Amherst

Athol

Attleboro

Avon

Barnstable

Bernardston

Beverly

Boston

Bridgewater

Brockton

Brookline

Buckland

Cambridge

Charlemont

Chelsea

Chicopee

Chilmark

Clarksburg

Colrain

Dennis

Eastham

Erving

Everett

Fall River

Fitchburg

Florida

Framingham

Gardner

Gloucester

Granville

Great Barrington

Greenfield

Halifax

Hamilton

Haverhill

Hawley

Heath

Hinsdale

Holyoke

Huntington

Lawrence

Leominster

Leyden

Lincoln,

Lowell

Ludlow

Lynn

Malden

Methuen

Middleborough

Milford

Millville

Monroe

Montague

Mount Washington

New Bedford

New Braintree

Newbury

North Adams

North Attleborough

Northampton

Norwood

Oak Bluffs

Orange

Orleans

Oxford

Palmer

Peabody

Peru

Pittsfield

Quincy

Randolph

Revere

Rockland

Rockport

Russell

Salem

Saugus

Savoy

Somerville

South Hadley

Southbridge

Southwick

Springfield

Stoughton

Taunton

Uxbridge

Wales

Waltham

Ware

Wareham

Webster

Wendell

West Boylston

West Springfield

West Stockbridge

Weston

Williamstown

Winchendon

Winthrop

Worcester

This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Worcester begins distributing nearly 70,000 COVID-19 test kits; partnering with state Depatment of Public Health

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