More than 30 nonprofits in Worcester, Massachusetts -- including El Buen Samaritano Food Program -- are handing out thousands of the free at-home COVID-19 test kits provided by the state to people who might otherwise not be able to get them in time for Christmas.
“This is what’s going to stop the spread," EBS Executive Director Mari Gonzalez said, "and we as a community need to stop the spread.”
“I feel like this is the best Christmas present I could have got,” said Worcester resident Serenity Jones.
A rapid at-home COVID test was all Jones wanted for Christmas so that she didn’t have a repeat of Thanksgiving with her family.
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“Thanksgiving was really awkward," Jones said. "I had to sit at a separate table, I couldn’t hug my parents.”
“Very grateful because you know, it was hard to find them, and they are expensive, you know for somebody that doesn’t have much money and needs a COVID test,” said Lupe Rodriguez, of Shrewsbury.
Even for those fortunate enough to be able to afford at-home tests, they say they can’t find them anywhere. And appointments for testing are hard to come by.
“Even my primary care doctor couldn’t take us, so this was a blessing,” Kristin Esper, of Westboro said.
That’s part of the reason why places like the Mercantile Center in Worcester are seeing long lines of people waiting in the cold to get a walk-in COVID test before families try to gather for the holidays.
“We’re thrilled that they have this opportunity because you literally can’t get testing anywhere,” said Charisse Martinez, of Charlton.
COVID-19 in Mass.
Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh says testing and being vaccinated are probably the best gifts that families can give each other this year.
“If you are both vaccinated and boosterized, you probably can rest knowing that you’re not going to get sick enough to go to the hospital,” Hirsh said.
And so far, the City of Worcester says it has distributed more than 75,000 tests to non-profits like the YMCA so they can get those tests to the people who need them most.