Three local communities designated to receive supplies of COVID-19 rapid test kits announced plans to distribute them to residents free of charge.
Lawrence Mayor Brian DePena said his city received 38,070 boxes of Angiten Rapid Test kits, with each box containing two tests.
Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said his city received about 32,000 test kits while Methuen received an unspecified number of kits.
Officials say the tests are convenient because they are easy to use and provide results quickly, typically within about 15 minutes.
Gov. Charlie Baker recently announced plans to deliver 2.1 million rapid tests to 102 communities, and the administration said it will be up to those municipalities to distribute the tests to their residents. Locally they will be available in Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen.
Baker is urging people to get tested for COVID-19 and to do so before they attend holiday events rather than afterward.
Like many states, Massachusetts is dealing with a flood of COVID-19 patients fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant and colder temperatures that have increased indoor activities. The Bay State is also one of about 30 that has detected cases of the new omicron mutation, which is possibly more contagious than previous strains.
Lawrence’s distribution plan
DePena said test kits are now being distributed to various organizations and specific nonprofits, including the YWCA, Family Services Inc., GLCAC, Lawrence housing Authority, charter schools, vaccination sites, private schools, churches and others. Residents can also pick up kits at the Senior Center, 155 Haverhill St., and at City Hall in the mayor’s office and Health Department. A family of five can received two to three kits and if more are needed, they can request them at any designated distribution site.
“As winter begins and the holidays are in full swing, the COVID-19 pandemic has entered another worrying phase,” DePena said. “Making at-home COVID-19 rapid tests available, along with masking, testing, and vaccination, remains the most effective ways to track and reduce transmission COVID-19.”
DePena said he wants to specifically target young people who tend to go to parties and other gatherings at Christmas and can bring the virus home, impacting the elderly population.
Haverhill’s distribution plan
Starting Monday, the Haverhill Health Department will begin distributing free COVID-19 testing kits to Haverhill residents at several locations. Several thousand test kits are also being given to community partners and local nonprofits for distribution.
“We are planning to distribute the test kits over the next week with the goal of deterring the spread of COVID during holiday gatherings,” Fiorentini said.
Kits will be available at the Citizen’s Center, 10 Welcome St., Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. and during the center’s COVID vaccination clinics Monday and Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m., and Friday, Christmas Eve, from 9 a.m. to noon.
The kits, which are only for people who live or work in Haverhill, will be available at the mayor’s office on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The public library will be distributing kits Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Residents may pick up one test kit for every two people in their family.
Haverhill’s Health Department is also providing test kits to the following community partners for public distribution on the following schedule: Boys and Girls Club from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and the YMCA from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. More locations will be announced.
The city has also provided test kits to the following housing developments/organizations to distribute to their residents: Haverhill Housing Authority; Bethany Homes; Judson House; Emmaus Inc., and Sarah’s Place.
Methuen’s distribution plan
Methuen has distributed kits to various community partners and some of the kits will be available for distribution starting Monday on a first-come, first-served basis at Sanborn Hall, which is located next to the Methuen Police Station at 90 Hampshire St. Proof of residency is required.
Methuen residents can pick up their kits at Sanborn Hall Monday, Dec. 20, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 21, from 2:30 to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 22, from 2 to 6 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, call or email Ryan Hamilton at 978-983-8505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vaccination clinics in progress
In Haverhill, the Citizen’s Center at 10 Welcome St. will host two, after-work, walk-in COVID vaccination clinics from 4 to 7 p.m. this coming Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 20 and 21. Pediatric and all adult doses will be available while children ages 5 and up can get their first dose. Coffee and hot chocolate will be served. Vaccine clinics at the Citizens Center continue to be held by appointment on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Book your time online at https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/haverhill. Appointments will be open beginning on the weekend. If you don’t have access to a computer, call the mayor’s 311 Constituent Services line (978-358-1311) for help.
The city of Lawrence continues to provide vaccinations and testing in a number of places, including City Hall, Lawrence General Hospital drive through, and at the Lawrence Fruteria located at Manchester Street. For more information on vaccinations and testing, including the rapid test, call 978-620-3261, 978-620-3542 or visit www.cityoflawrence.com.
The State House News Service and Eagle-Tribune reporter Christian Wade contributed to this story.