ATTLEBORO — Efforts to bring a free Stop the Spread coronavirus test site to Attleboro have been rejected by Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration.
Kate Reilly, spokeswoman for Baker’s Coronavirus Command Center replied to a Sun Chronicle inquiry on the issue Friday morning.
“The administration does not have plans at this time for a Stop the Spread site in Attleboro,” she said in an emailed statement.
Apparently, the administration believes there are enough testing sites statewide.
She noted that “there are over 350 testing sites in (Massachusetts) including free, state-run testing sites in 23 communities.”
However, the closest free state-run sites to Attleboro are at least a 30- to 45-minute drive away in Brockton and Fall River respectively for persons who have cars.
There’s no public transportation to those cities.
Neither of the two cities in northern Bristol County, Taunton and Attleboro have an STS site.
There is only one testing site in the city and that’s at Sturdy Memorial Hospital which charges $150 for people without insurance. A referral and appointment are both needed.
There are long waits at other out-of-town sites.
Meanwhile, Attleboro and the nine towns in its immediate area have seen a 782 percent increase in coronavirus cases in the last two months as of Thursday.
On Oct. 22, the area recorded 100 new cases for the week.
On Dec. 10, the area recorded 914 new cases.
On Dec. 17, the area record 882 new cases.
In addition, the rate of positive tests for the virus has nearly doubled in one month.
On Nov. 19, the average percentage of positive tests for the virus in all 10 communities was 4.43 percent.
On Dec. 17, it was 8.42 percent.
All told, eight of the 10 communities in the Sun Chronicle region are in the state’s coronavirus red zone, or the zone of the highest incidence of the disease.
In some areas, CVS Pharmacies provide free testing but none of the three stores in Attleboro provide that service.
City councilors and the city’s Legislative delegation are both pushing for a STS site and one lawmaker Rep. Jim Hawkins, D-Attleboro, said the effort is not going to stop.
“It’s insane they don’t have one here,” he said Friday afternoon. “We’re not giving up on this.”
Hawkins said information was provided to the city on how to set up its own site, but the complicated work involved makes it virtually impossible for a small city to do the job by a Dec. 31 deadline, he said.
Sen. Becca Rausch, D-Needham issued a statement earlier this week when she found out Attleboro won’t get a testing site. She has described the area as a “testing desert.”
“We cannot mitigate what we don’t measure; refusing to launch Stop the Spread or equivalent testing sites in every persistently red zone area, including Attleboro, is a dangerous flaw in the fight to safeguard personal and public health, and get our schools and small businesses back on track,” she said in an emailed statement to The Sun Chronicle.
In an email to one of the governor’s aides she said local leaders should not be responsible for setting up testing sites as has been suggested to city officials and Hawkins.
“It should not fall to municipal leaders to do this work. This is a statewide problem that requires statewide vision and statewide solutions from the executive branch,” she wrote.
On Tuesday, Council President Mark Cooper said a resolution of support for a STS site in Attleboro will be sent to Baker immediately and that will be followed by a formal letter in two weeks.