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Massachusetts To Distribute 2 Million Free At-Home Rapid COVID-19 Tests Starting With 102 Hardest Hit Communities

BOSTON (CBS) – Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Monday that the state will be distributing two million free rapid at-home COVID tests to the 102 hardest hit communities in Massachusetts.

Baker called the announcement "potentially a game-changer" in slowing the spread of COVID-19. The tests are expected to be distributed within 4-5 days. Click here for a full list of towns.

Massachusetts is also working with test manufacturers to make bulk, cheap purchasing deals available for every town. Baker expects that program to be in place by January.

Baker said cost and supply issues have been a major barrier when it comes to acquiring at-home tests.

Health and Human Services Sec. Marylou Sudders said the state is spending $10 million on the 2.1 million tests and hopes to be reimbursed by the federal government.

"These tests will be especially helpful as we head into the holiday season. People can use them to check for the virus that they can safely gather with family and friends," Baker said.

Though Massachusetts is experiencing a surge of COVID cases, Baker said the state is in better shape to prevent serious illness than it has been in the past. About 5 million people in Massachusetts are fully vaccinated, and another 1.5 million have received a booster shot.

Baker said the 102 cities that will receive the tests are communities with the highest estimated percentage of families below the poverty level according to the US Census Bureau.

"The goal here is to help those families who face the greatest financial hardship and might have difficulty obtaining rapid tests at a pharmacy," Baker said.

For more on the self-test distribution program, click here.

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