“I stand in line, ready to shove a Q-tip up my nose. My feet are planted on a black mat that reads, ‘Thank you for practicing social distancing.’ The rumble of idling cars permeates the Lowell Health Department’s parking lot. Around me, dozens of community members wait for a free COVID-19 test, offered as part of the state’s “Stop the Spread” initiative. The program targets eight municipalities — Lowell, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lynn, Marlboro and New Bedford — in which the number of coronavirus cases and positive test rates are above the state average. These areas have also seen a drop in testing since April, according to Gov. Charlie Baker’s office.”
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