COVID-19 cases are rising sharply across Massachusetts. On Thursday alone, more than 5,800 were reported.
The rising number of cases is especially concerning ahead of the Christmas holiday when many families will gather in big groups for possibly the first time in years. That makes testing all the more important.
In Worcester, officials will start to distribute free at-home rapid tests on Friday at several locations across the city. More than 135,000 over-the-counter antigen tests were alloted to the city and will be distributed in the coming days and weeks.
Cities like Revere and Quincy already began distributing the tests they received from the state. In all, 102 communities deemed most vulnerable by the state will be giving out the tests.
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"They are extremely hard to find," said Marli Caslli, Quincy health commissioner. "The calls started comign in two weeks before Thanksgiving. People were looking for testing."
"If you're getting them, please use them. It's not just a commodity to have," said Ralph Decicco, Revere Food Hub coordinator. "They're going to benefit you and your family and keep everyone safe."
This all comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is predicting a 55% increase in COVID cases by the end of Christmas week. The agency estimates we'll see about 1.3 million new cases over that seven day stretch.
But Dr. Ashish Jha of the Brown University School of Public Health said you should feel comfortable seeing loved ones over the holiday as long as you're taking appropriate precautions.
"As long as everybody's vaccinated, everybody who's eligible to be boosted is boosted, I think it's quite safe," he said. "It's not 100% -- nothing's 100%."