Lawmaker calls for free COVID-19 testing for western Massachusetts

Coronavirus Local Impact

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — As the numbers for confirmed cases in Massachusetts climbs over 100,000 The Stop the Spread Initiative is targeting eight hot spots in the eastern parts of the state with free testing.

According to the Baker Polito Administration, these hot spot cases and positive test rates have exceeded the statewide average where the volume of testing has declined over the past two months.

“The goal of this initiative is to provide widespread asymptomatic testing in an easy to access location within these communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker during a press conference.

However, lawmakers, including Senator Eric Lesser, are voicing the need for that exact same testing here in western Massachusetts.

CLICK HERE FOR AN INTERACTIVE MAP OF TEST SITES IN MASSACHUSETTS

Cases are high in cities like Springfield and Holyoke, with recent numbers in Springfield at over 2,000 confirmed cases.

Senator Lesser told 22News that not having the state testing sites will impact towns with diverse populations and underlying racial and economic disparities. Senator Lesser also argues that many of the risk factors most associated with Covid-19 such as age and health conditions like diabetes and asthma are highly prevalent in the Western part of the state.

“This is very important especially for communities that might not have access to doctors or physicians,” said Senator Lesser. “Individuals who might not have insurance or people who are otherwise have not been able to connect with the rest of the healthcare system—so the idea that we would be leaving out Western Mass with that kind of initiative, is very troubling.”

As of right now, there is testing available by private providers in western Massachusetts but many require referrals and some form of health insurance.

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