After Thanksgiving, officials push Massachusetts residents to ‘get tested’ for coronavirus

Officials have a message for anyone who traveled or attended a Thanksgiving despite warnings that doing so could cause coronavirus cases to surge: Get tested.

“Everybody should be getting a test after the holiday and they should especially get tested if they have been with folks outside of their household or if they traveled,” said Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo.

Revere expanded hours at its state-sponsored Stop the Spread testing site at Revere High School to “accommodate high demand for testing following the Thanksgiving holiday,” according to a statement from the Board of Health. The first-come, first-served testing site opened for four hours on Saturday and Sunday. It is open from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Demand for tests in the Bay State has spiked in recent weeks as coronavirus cases again surge and the holidays bring the desire for gathering. Many of the roughly 250 testing sites around the state saw long lines form and appointments booked out for days to weeks in advance ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Arrigo said he hopes expanding hours will make testing more accessible. He called it a “crucial” part of tracking and stopping the spread of the virus that many predicted will surge in the wake of holiday gatherings, particularly in a city like Revere, which has been among the hardest-hit communities.

Mayor Martin Walsh took to Twitter on Sunday to deliver a similar message: “If you celebrated Thanksgiving in a gathering or with people outside your household, please get tested for #COVID19 … to understand your health and so we can make decisions based on accurate public health data.”

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Gov. Charlie Baker cautioned would-be travelers “that a test is not a Kevlar vest.” It was a message repeated by public health experts and officials across the country who warned that large Thanksgiving gatherings could drive an increase in cases heading into Christmas.

AAA estimated 50 million Americans traveled over the holiday weekend despite warnings — just a 10% drop over last year’s numbers.

The state is set to launch its rapid COVID-19 testing program in schools over the coming week in an effort to support in-person education.

Earlier this month, Baker announced the state would provide 134 school districts with Abbott BinaxNOW tests — a 15-minute antigen test — so they can test students or staff who begin to exhibit symptoms in class. A molecular test is still required, but the quick tests would serve as an early warning sign, Baker said.

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