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City Distributing 80,000 Rapid COVID-19 Test Kits to Vulnerable Neighborhoods

The public can pick up free test kits from certain community centers, senior centers, and libraries during set times while supplies last
January 27, 2022

The City of Albuquerque’s Office of Emergency Management has received 80,000 rapid COVID-19 test kits in an effort to increase access to free tests and reduce the spread of the recent Omicron variant. The City has begun distribution to neighborhoods with the highest social vulnerability, focusing its efforts on senior citizens and medically high-risk individuals.

“We’ve all experienced how difficult it can be to find affordable, rapid tests when we need them most. Testing is a critical piece of keeping people safe, so we’re getting rid of barriers to access that have historically put vulnerable groups at risk,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “As we have throughout the pandemic, we’re focused on having an equitable response that supports all of our communities.”

The tests are part of the one million at-home tests that were requested by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the NMDOH from the federal government. As of Monday, the state had received 400,000 tests and was allocating them to County and Tribal emergency managers with priority given to zip codes with high social vulnerability and case rates. The City of Albuquerque received 80,000 of the 109,123 allocated to Bernalillo County.

“With the recent surge of positive cases, increasing access to free testing is critical,” said Roger Ebner, City of Albuquerque Director of Emergency Management. “Our most vulnerable populations are our first priority. As we continue to receive guidance from the Department of Health, we will continue to distribute tests as equitably as possible.”

The City of Albuquerque Office of Equity and Inclusion has been working diligently with the Departments of Family and Community Services, Senior Affairs, and Arts and Culture to develop a distribution plan and schedule. The first sites to receive test kits include health and social service centers, community centers, senior centers, multi-generational centers, and public libraries in the priority zip codes. In addition to City-owned facilities, the kits will also be distributed through food pantries and to those who receive home visits from the Department of Senior Affairs. Community organizations, many of whom work with the City to provide COVID-19 health education to the public, will also be providing distribution to their networks.

Self-testing continues to be one of several ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 along with getting vaccinated, receiving a booster dose, wearing a well-fitted mask indoors, and social distancing. Home tests can be completed in 15 minutes, allowing people to know their COVID-19 status and act accordingly. The New Mexico Department of Health has also developed a web page for home testing including a guide for what to do for quarantine and isolation depending on test results.

For more information about how to receive your free at-home test kits and where to find a location near you, click here. If you are a community organization that would like to help distribute tests, click here. To order additional at-home COVID-19 tests through the US Postal Service, click here.

The City will be able to give people up to four test kits per household while supplies last, during hours set by the distribution sites, which are subject to change depending on staffing. Test sites and times are subject to change as supplies become available.

B-roll and interviews for media will be available on Friday, January 28 at 12:30pm at Barelas Senior Center, 714 7th St. 87102. Please RSVP to Drew Ayotte at [email protected] if you plan to attend.