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Grocery Workers Can Be Tested For COVID-19 At 2 Drive-Thru Sites Reserved For First Responders

Grocery store and supermarket workers can now be tested for coronavirus at two drive-thru sites operated by the state's Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, following a Friday night directive from the Baker administration.

The sites were originally set up exclusively for police, fire and other emergency personnel exhibiting symptoms of the virus, and were expanded on Thursday to include those who are asymptomatic.

The first site opened last Sunday across from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. The second site opened Thursday on the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield. Each site is capable of conducting 200 tests per day. But neither was operating at capacity. By the end of the day on Friday, 762 first responders had been tested at Gillette during the six days it had been open, while 165 had been tested in the two days the West Springfield site had been open.

Gov. Charlie Baker addressed the role of grocery store workers during his Friday briefing hours before implementing the change, and just days after a grocery employee who worked at Market Basket in Salem died of COVID-19.

"Obviously, our grocery store workers, the folks working in pharmacies, the folks working on the public transportation system, there are a lot of folks doing a lot of really important jobs out there," Baker said.

The testing sites are open by appointment only, seven days a week. Grocery workers, as well as first responders, must initiate a request for testing with their supervisor.  Appointments can usually be scheduled for the next day, and results results are available within 24 to 48 hours for symptomatic personnel, and three to five days for asymptomatic personnel.

In addition to the Foxborough and West Springfield sites, CVS has set up a rapid testing site in Lowell that can test up to 1,000 people a day and is open to anyone.  Patients need to pre-register at CVS.com to arrange an appointment.

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Steve Brown Twitter Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.

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