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Mass. to expand free virus tests

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Mass. to expand free virus tests

BOSTON — Massachusetts is expanding its free coronavirus testing program to eight additional communities where positive test rates are above the statewide average at the same time the number of tests being conducted is dropping, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.

The testing initiative, which is also open for asympomatic people who make an appointment, is expanding to Agawam, Brockton, Methuen, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, Taunton and Worcester, the Republican governor said during a news conference.

“In addition to dozens of other testing sites in every county, we’re increasing our testing footprint to better understand exactly where the virus exists, who has it, and how we can follow up through our tracing program and other initiatives,” he said.

The Stop The Spread program was previously rolled out earlier this month in Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough and New Bedford. So far, about 19,000 total tests have been conducted at the first eight sites, he said.

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The overall positive test rate in the state has inched up recently from about 1.7% to about 2%, he said, a reminder that the virus is not taking the summer off, he said.

The state is also closely looking at small clusters, including a private party in Chatham and an employee at Baystate Healthcare, who the governor said traveled to an out-of-state hot spot and was “lax” about wearing a mask. Other employees and patients have since tested positive, he said.

“We can also assume there’s simply a lot more mobility out there, some of that as a result of the economic activity associated with opening up some of our commonwealth’s businesses and employers, but also some of […]

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