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Chelsea, Other Hard-Hit Massachusetts Cities To Get Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests

CHELSEA (CBS) - Chelsea is one of 102 cities and towns in Massachusetts that will get bundles of at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits because their neighborhoods are being hit especially hard by the pandemic.

"Especially in the Spanish culture, we love to get together and holidays and Christmas and New Year's and hugging," said Rob Lara, who delivers food for the Chelsea Collaborative foodbank. "That's one big scare, and hopefully it doesn't bring a big spike," he said.

The organization has been handing out a limited supply of at-home tests to families, but workers say there aren't nearly enough to go around. Daily COVID cases in Chelsea have about doubled since summer.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the MA National Guard now plans to deliver the tests to the municipalities on their list. "It's a non-invasive process, four steps, highly effective," said state Sec. of Human Services Marylou Sudders about the tests.

For the cities and towns who are not part of the one-time distribution, the governor says there's another plan in the works. "There's also a contract that's being negotiated currently to make it possible for all cities and towns in Massachusetts to purchase these tests on behalf of their residents…and they can use federal funds to make those purchases," he said.

Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he's thankful for the 15,000 tests his city is getting, but he says it still won't be enough to fill the city's urgent need. "Rapid tests are very hard to get your hands on," he said. "It's not easy to get them at local pharmacies. They're sold out and they're extremely expensive, so for our population, they really don't have access to these rapid tests."

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