By Nick Emmons, WBZ-TV

ACUSHNET (CBS) – Hundreds of residents in Acushnet received some peace of mind ahead of Thanksgiving in the form of a rapid COVID-19 test. The town offered the testing to residents free of charge at Acushnet Elementary School.

Roger Cabral was eager to take advantage of the clinic, so he could safely visit with family over the holiday. Cabral said, “I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my mom, and just to be sure I’m safe and she’s safe, I decided to get tested.”

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Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher said he has been encouraging residents to follow CDC guidance, and avoid visiting with family over Thanksgiving, but he says it’s just not a realistic expectation. “At least they know if they’re going to travel, and if they’re going to spend time with family and friends outside of their bubble, that they’re not the source of the spread,” Gallagher said.

Roger Cabral at rapid COVID-19 testing site in Acushnet (WBZ-TV)

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That said, a negative test result on Wednesday does protect you from the virus on Thursday. “It’s not a protective shield,” says Gallagher.

The Board of Selectmen authorized the use of CARES Act money to provide the free rapid testing for residents. It’s a welcome service for people like John Fonseca, who was diagnosed with coronavirus three weeks ago. “I think it’s very valuable because the people that are asymptomatic don’t know they’re carrying it, and get other people infected,” said Fonseca. He brought his whole family to be tested, just to be sure they haven’t been exposed in the past few weeks. “It’s nice to be safe, and know that we are not positive.”

Others who took advantage of the free testing don’t plan on having large gatherings, or visiting with family over Thanksgiving. For them it was just an easy opportunity to have some peace of mind. “I am personally kind of scared of COVID,” said Lindsay Jardin. “I have a heart condition, so I don’t want it, and this is the best way to see if I have it.”

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Her mother, Lynn Monte said getting tested is the right thing to do to keep everyone safe. “We want to be safe, we’re doing the right thing,” she said.