WINCHESTER - Residents in Winchester, Burlington or Woburn who believe they may have the coronavirus and want to get tested, or who have recently come into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, can visit one of eight locations: Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, and New Bedford.

According to mass.gov, the Commonwealth is launching a “strategic testing program” in communities across the state that have continued to see a higher number of residents testing positive for COVID-19.

This program, the state says, will support the testing of symptomatic people in these communities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Residents who live in the above-mentioned communities are encourage to get tested, but the test sites are open to anyone in the state (including whether you have symptoms or not).

In fact, residents who don’t show symptoms but may have come into contact with someone who tested positive should absolutely get tested, as asymptomatic spreaders make up a vast majority of the cases. While many with coronavirus wind up in the hospital, and some in the ICU, most never show any symptoms. These people are called silent spreaders.

This is one reason so many are fearful of opening up schools in the fall; kids could get infected, not show any symptoms, and spread the virus to more at-risk people such as the elderly or immunocompromised. Many teachers are over 50, putting them at risk in a classroom full of potential spreaders (and most US schools shut down pretty quickly in the spring, so it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen come September with little previous data to analyze).

It’s quite possible if states send children back to school, nothing will happen and no one will get sick. However, in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California, where coronavirus numbers continue to increase, it may be wiser to play it safe and have children learn at home (at least until the numbers decrease over a period of time).

Massachusetts’ numbers already decreased and the state sees roughly 100-200 new cases a day (as compared to Florida who has seen upwards of 12,000-15,000 new cases a day). This means that students in Winchester, Burlington and Woburn could potentially find themselves in a classroom come late-August or early-September.

According to the governor, each community must prepare three plans of attack: one where all students go to school, one where no students go to school and one where students go to school half the time and stay home the other half. Right now, there’s no official guidance on which direction the state is leaning.

For residents who decide to get tested, the sites will remain open now through Aug. 14. Everyone is eligible and there is no cost. Results will be provided to each participant confidentially, but participants are encouraged to share the results with their doctors.

The specific (local) sites are:

• MGH Chelsea, 151 Everett Ave., Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

• Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare, 1000 Broadway in Chelsea, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

• Health Innovations (van) Chelsea Square - 7 Second St., Monday - Wednesday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Mary C. Burke School, 300 Crescent Ave., Thursday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; and Washington Park - 5 Nichols St., Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

• Fenway Health (van) Glendale Park (Elm Street in Everett) Monday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.; Sacramone Playground (Tileston Street) Tuesday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.; Lafayette School (117 Edith St. Wednesday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.; Madeline English School (105 Woodville St.) Thursday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.; and City Hall Municipal Lot (484 Broadway) Friday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

• Lawrence General Hospital and Greater Lawrence Family Health Center MVTRA City Lot, Canal Street Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

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