State to Distribute Over 2 Million Free COVID At-Home Tests

Gov. Charlie Baker

HYANNIS – Governor Charlie Baker has announced over 2 million free at-home COVID tests for high-need communities across the state, including six on Cape Cod and the Islands, significantly increasing the accessibility of home kits.

The 2.1 million iHealth Labs over-the-counter (OTC) at-home rapid antigen tests will be delivered to 102 towns with the highest percentage of families below the poverty level.

According to The Associated Press, the communities account for nearly 3.7 million Massachusetts residents.

Barnstable is expected to receive about 12,600 testing kits, while Dennis is slated to get roughly 4,300 and Orleans and Eastham are each set to gain approximately 1,600. Oak Bluffs and Chilmark have also been allocated about 1,200 tests and 200 tests respectively, while Wareham is expected to get about 7,200.

“With the holidays approaching, we encourage residents to utilize rapid tests as a convenient way to keep family members and friends safe at gatherings,” said Baker.

“While these tests are widely available at many pharmacies and retail locations across the Commonwealth, we are making it even easier for residents to get free rapid testing through these initiatives.”

According to Baker, the Commonwealth is paying $5 per test, which comes in packs of two. The tests take 15 minutes to deliver a result without the need to send samples to a laboratory. 

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Massachusetts National Guard will handle the delivery of the tests.

The latest figures from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health show that the statewide positivity rate is about 4.79 percent as case numbers rise across the region.

The data from the state also shows that Barnstable County’s positivity rate is about 7.16 percent.

State officials said that while the initial 2.1 million tests will be distributed to the 102 highest-need communities at first, plans are in the works to allow other municipalities and public entities to directly purchase tests from manufacturers at a fixed-state-negotiated price. 

The state expects that municipalities will be able to place orders beginning January, and will be able to utilize American Rescue Plan Act and other Federal COVID Relief funding to purchase.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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