FRAMINGHAM – Before the free COVID-19 testing site opened in Framingham in December, Senate President Karen Spilka was fighting for more than two lanes of drive-thru testing at that site.
And this week, a third lane will be added to the Stop the Spread testing site on Franklin Street in Framingham, operated by Project Beacon, thanks to Senate President Spilka’s advocacy
“I’m glad this is finally happening,” said Sen. Spilka about the third testing lane at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts free COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Framingham.
“I spoke to Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services before the Framingham site even opened. I pushed for a third lane knowing the need for testing in MetroWest. That site serves the Greater Framingham area and it was clear even before it opened that even more testing capacity was needed,” said Senate President Spilka.
Project Beacon will need to close the testing site on Thursday, Feb. 4, to add the third lane.
UPDATED: The third lane means an increased capacity of 150 individuals per hour can be tested.
“Robust COVID testing is needed still in MetroWest,” even as the state rolls out the vaccine, said the Senate President.
“Two lanes were great, but three lanes is even better,” said Sen. Spilka.
“I want to thank the administration for realizing the need for increased testing in MetroWest. While the site is in Framingham, it serves Greater Framingham, the entire MetroWest region,” said Senate President Spilka.
The free COVID-19 testing site is located in a parking lot owned by Framingham State University at 484 Franklin Street.
Tests must be scheduled in advance online. the site is drive-thru only and by appointment only.
Framingham used to have a free walk-up testing site at SMOC HQ on Bishop Street, but it closed at the end of December.
Two weeks ago, SOURCE published the City asked 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.
Framingham Health Director Sam Wong repeatedly said in 2020 it was important for the City to have a walk-up COVID-19 testing site on the southside of the community, as many of the positive cases were coming from that part of the City. He was working on securing a replacement to the SMOC walk-up site site before he resigned.
The state and Project Beacon have said the walk-up site must be ADA compliant, and must have more than one entrance/exit, among other criteria. Indoors is essential now with cold weather and snow.
Project Beacon was scheduled to look at the parish center this week, according to state officials and legislators, but the visit was postponed due to the storm.
“I did reach out to the interim Framingham Health Director on the state of the walk up site,” said at large Framingham City Councilor Janet Leombruno, who chairs the City Council’s subcommittee on public health & public safety. “I’m told they have been working on it.”
But there was no walk-up testing in Framingham, on anywhere in MetroWest, residents who do not have vehicles.
“While increased drive-up testing is great,” said Councilor Leombruno. “We need to make sure we don’t forget those without transportation. They are our most vulnerable, and should be our highest priority.”
“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 Interim Health Director Alex DePalo to SOURCE a couple of weeks ago.