Mayor Sarno calls for National Guard members to be deployed to Eastfield Mall site | Coronavirus
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – Some people in western Massachusetts have waited more than three hours in line at local COVID-19 testing sites, over the past few weeks.
After multiple days of parking lots filled with cars at the Eastfield Mall site, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno reached out to Governor Charlie Baker to see if he would open another COVID-19 testing site in Hampden County.
However, on Tuesday, Governor Baker announced that he does not have any plans to do that.
“We have about as much testing capacity open, on a per capita basis, that you’ll find anywhere in America,” Governor Baker said Tuesday.
Mayor Sarno said that he will stop pushing for another testing site to be opened if the state can provide more people to help out at the Eastfield Mall testing site.
After hearing that Governor Baker activated 500 more National Guard members to help local hospitals with staffing issues, Mayor Sarno told Western Mass News that he is now requesting 20 National Guard members be deployed to Springfield to help the only regional testing site in the city.
“What would be able to allow them to expand and handle the continued onslaught would be, again, my request to get National Guard men and women here,” Mayor Sarno said. “If we can get 20, I have reassurance from AMR officials that we could expand that testing site.”
Mayor Sarno has not yet heard back if the state will be able to fulfill their request.
Governor Baker said that most of the people showing up at those testing sites, creating the long lines, need the results for their employer or their school.
The state’s Department of Public Health suggested that employers accept rapid test results, and not require a PCR test.
“We believe the antigen test, which is enormously accurate, especially on the back end of contagion, is a perfectly suitable solution,” Governor Baker said.
He hoped that this would reduce the long lines at local testing sites, and therefore reduce the need for any more testing locations.
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