City is deploying free at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits
The City of Boston today announced the distribution plan for free, at-home rapid antigen test kits for all city residents. The initial distribution began this past weekend with delivery of test kits to many Boston Public Library branches and Boston Centers for Youth & Families community centers. The free test kits are currently available at BCYF community centers at Paris Street in East Boston, Hyde Park on River St., Mildred Ave. in Mattapan, and the Tobin in Mission Hill and Shelburne in Roxbury, as well as Boston Public Library Branches in Brighton, Copley Square, Codman Square, East Boston, Grove Hall, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, and South Boston with plans in place for additional distribution sites to follow, including all BPL and BCYF sites. Boston residents seeking a test kit will also be able to obtain kits for their immediate family, subject to availability. The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) is also coordinating with the Office of Emergency Management, Boston Public Schools, and other city departments on the distribution plan.
Last week, state officials announced that they would be providing 2.1 million kits statewide. With these state kits and the City’s initial purchase of test kits earlier in the month, the City of Boston will be providing more than 260,000 kits for distribution throughout Boston. Each kit contains two tests, meaning there are over half a million free rapid tests available to residents.
As part of the deployment strategy, the City is working with Boston Public Schools and the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) to reach the families they serve. Each one of the approximately 55,000 BPS students will receive an at home test kit with two tests to help ensure a safe return to school after winter break. BHA will make testing kits available for their over 17,000 residents and Age Strong Boston and the Disabilities Commission will help connect seniors and Bostonians with disabilities with this resource.
Additional test kit distribution will employ a targeted approach to reach specific vulnerable populations. The City will coordinate with service providers, community partners, and Vaccine Equity partners to ensure direct and timely distribution.
“As we enter the holiday season, we must rely on testing, vaccination and other safety practices to ensure the health of us and our loved ones. Led by Dr. Ojikutu with collaboration from agencies across the city, we will help our communities be together and celebrate safely. I am grateful to Governor Baker for swift action and all our city employees for their hard work to get these test kits into the hands of our residents,” said Mayor Michelle Wu.
“We’re distributing these kits with a focus on communities and populations experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 and barriers to testing, including people who cannot afford to purchase these kits from stores,” said Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “Rapid antigen testing is an important mitigation strategy to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Access must be equitable.”
Consistent with state and national trends, Boston is experiencing a surge in case numbers and hospitalizations, making mitigation and prevention efforts more important than ever this holiday season. Mayor Wu and Dr. Bisola Ojikutu urge all residents to get vaccinated and boosted. If you are exposed to COVID-19 or presenting upper respiratory symptoms, please get tested immediately, regardless of vaccine status. For information about clinics and vaccine availability visit https://www.boston.gov/departments/public-health-commission/covid-19-vaccine-boston. For more information on where to find a free rapid test kit near you, visit https://www.boston.gov/departments/public-health-commission/free-covid-19-home-test-kits.