NEW BEDFORD — City health and emergency management officials are working with community organizations to distribute more than 37,700 at-home COVID-19 testing kits. Priority will be given to families with young children and minority racial/ethnic groups who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

The state provided New Bedford with 37,700 testing kits on Friday. Each kit contains two rapid antigen tests, by iHealth Labs. State officials have distributed test kits to more than 100 other cities and towns.

With the holiday season here and surging levels of COVID-19 transmission, the focus remains on groups with low vaccination rates, who are most at risk for illness, along with groups that have experienced sharp increases in cases since the Thanksgiving holiday.

The free kits will only be distributed to New Bedford residents. Priority groups include:

  • Families with young children.
  • Unvaccinated people.
  • People who identify as Hispanic, multi-racial or another minority racial/ethnic group.
  • People younger than 30.

The city also plans to distribute a limited number of the kits via pop-up events at local schools and libraries, while supplies last.

School distribution sites

Distribution at local schools will start Tuesday (Dec. 21). with pop-up events for students, staff, and family members from 3-6 p.m. at Keith Middle School, 25 Hathaway Blvd.; Normandin Middle School, 81 Felton St.; and Roosevelt Middle School, 119 Frederick St.

On Wednesday, Dec. 22, pop-up distribution events will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the following schools:

  • Alfred J. Gomes Elementary School, 286 S. 2nd St.
  • Sgt. William Carney Memorial Academy Elementary School, 247 Elm St.
  • Hayden McFadden Elementary School, 361 Cedar Grove St.
  • Abraham Lincoln School, 445 Ashley Blvd.
  • Casimir Pulaski Elementary School, 1097 Braley Road.

Library distribution sites

  • Downtown/Main Library, 613 Pleasant St., 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 21-22.
  • Wilks Branch Library, 1911 Acushnet Ave., noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 22.
  • Howland-Green Branch, 3 Rodney French Blvd., noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 22.

Depending on the success of these initial events, further distributions may be announced.

More information on test kits

Residents use the tests at home. Test results are available in 15 minutes, and samples do not need to go to a laboratory. People do not need a cell phone or computer for any part of the test. The tests are effective for all individuals 2 years of age and up, regardless of vaccination status or whether they have COVID-19 symptoms.

There is no mechanism with the at-home tests to report results, and test results do not need to be reported to public health authorities. However, people who test positive should confirm their result at a COVID-19 testing site, isolate for 10 days, and notify their close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

For more information on self-testing, visit the Centers for Disease Control website.


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