BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Gov. Baker has announced the launch of a new month-long coronavirus testing initiative in eight Massachusetts communities with above-average COVID-19 infection rates.
On Wednesday, Gov. Baker said the "Stop the Spread" initiative would be a "data-driven effort" to reduce the prevalence of coronavirus in the eight communities, all of which are above the state average in total cases and positive test rates, and have experienced a decline in testing levels.
"While the Commonwealth has made progress on reducing the overall positive test rate, there are still communities where the number of positive tests is above the average of the rest of the state," said Baker. "Testing is one of the critical tools in the toolbox that we use and we continue to fight and contain COVID. It helps us identify where the virus is present and allows us to trace and isolate positive cases in a targeted way."
The increased testing initiative is being launched in Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, and New Bedford. It will include access to new mobile COVID-19 testing sites, which will provide free on-site testing for all residents from July 10 through August 14.
Baker said anyone who lives in the eight communities, even those who are asymptomatic, are being urged to take advantage of the new sites. While the locations are being launched in those towns, however, they are open to all residents of the Commonwealth.
According to COVID-19 Command Center Director & Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, the population of those eight cities make up approximately 9 percent of the Commonwealth’s population, but have seen 27 percent of the Commonwealth’s positive tests in the last two weeks.
“Increased testing within these communities will help to identify new cases of COVID-19 and break the chains of community transmission,” said Sudders. “As we move into the summer, we will continue to closely monitor positivity and testing rates across the Commonwealth."
Sudders also said the statewide positive test rate over the past two weeks has been approximately 2 percent, but in the eight communities, 8 percent of tests have been positive.
Click here to learn more about the new testing sites.