Framingham Considering District 8 Polling Place as Possible Walk-Up COVID-19 Testing Site

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FRAMINGHAM – The City of Framingham is considering asking Project Beacon to review the District 8 polling location in South Framingham, as a potential new walk-up free, COVID-19 testing site.

The City’s free walk-up testing site at South Middlesex Opportunity Council’s HQ on Bishop Street closed in December.

Since then, there has only been the drive-thru testing site, operated by Project Beacon, and paid for by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for free testing.

If you don’t have a vehicle, you can NOT get testing at the Franklin Street parking lot site owned by Framingham State University. And openings have been very limited since the holidays.

SOURCE has learned that the City is asking Project Beacon & the state to allow a free walk-up testing site at the St. Tarcisius parish center, next to the Catholic church on Route 135, within walking distance of the MBTA commuter rail station.

Built in 1983, the Father Maschi Parish Center, is the voting location for District 8, which is Precincts 15 and 18.

Before Framingham Health Director Sam Wong left, he had said it was important for the City to have a walk-up COVID-19 testing site on the southside of the community. He was working on securing a site before he resigned. 

The state and Project Beacon have said the site must be ADA compliant, and must have more than one entrance/exit, among other criteria.

Tuesday night, at-large City Councilor Janet Leombruno asked the City’s Chief Operating Officer Thatcher Kezer III about the process and an update on the new walk-up testing site. He said the City was working on it, but that no sites proposed by the City of Framingham had been rejected.

But on Wednesday night, Mayor Yvonne Spicer told the Framingham School Committee that the Commonwealth had rejected two proposed walk-up testing locations the City of Framingham suggested.

SOURCE emailed interim Health Director Alexandra DePalo about the rejected sites and the proposed sites being considered yesterday and again today.

“The City is actively working with the State for a new COVID-19 walk-up testing site in Framingham. We have learned that the State has rejected a couple of the proposed sites based on the requirements of the testing vendor.  When we have a new walk-up testing site, the City will announce it,”: said DePalo to SOURCE.

The City’s legislative delegation has been working with the City and the Commonwealth to try to secure a walk-up testing site.

City Councilor Chair George P. King Jr. suggested Nevins Hall in the Memorial Building as a potential walk-up COVID testing site. There are multiple entrances and exits. City Hall is by appointment only except for the City Clerk and tax collector’s offices at this time.

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini suggested the St T’s Parish center.

“We need to work with the state to open a local testing site. Saint Tarcisius parish hall would be one such good site,” said the District 8 Councilor.

It is unknown if schools on the southside of the city including Wilson Elementary, Fuller Middle school, and Keefe Technical School, have been considered. Students have not been physically in the schools since at least December 7, and all of the schools have multiple entrances and exits.

Another potential option is the former Danforth Building on Union Avenue. It has a large gym, and there is the spaces formerly occupied by the museum and the boys & girls clubs.

Framingham is averaging more than 53 cases per day per 100,000 individuals over the last 14 days. The city’s positivity rate for the virus is 7.5%

Almost 6,000 people have been infected by the virus since the pandemic began, which is more than 8% of the City’s population.

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