First responder testing site for COVID-19 opens near Gillette Stadium

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — First responders will have a place to go to get tested for COVID-19 free of charge. It’s all thanks to a collaboration between state leaders and the New England Patriots, as well as other organizations.

The testing site is located right across the street from Gillette Stadium. Crews were there all day Saturday, getting it ready for the first day of testing on Sunday. Up to 200 first responders will get tested there daily, all from the comfort of their own cars.

Testing is by appointment only, and supervisors must make the appointments. The tests start Sunday 9 a.m to 5 p.m. and will run seven days a week.

The extremely contagious coronavirus is a huge threat to our first responders, who share equipment, work in close-quarters and are constantly coming in contact with other people.

“We don’t want one or two crew members to go back and then accidentally infect the whole station and take out 12 to 16 people. That would be devastating,” said Plymouth Fire Chief Ed Bradley.

Chief Bradley said there are 47 known COVID-19 cases in his town, and though there have been some close calls, none of his crew members have come down with the virus.

But if that day does come, he says the new drive-thru testing site for first responders will hopefully help stop the spread.

“It will speed up the testing, we’ll get the results back a little bit quicker, so we’ll know right away whether or not we have to quarantine them or if they can go back to work,” Chief Bradley said.

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And unlike other sites where results don’t come back for many days, Bradley said the results from Foxborough will be returned within 48 hours.

“It’s vital that we find out right away, so we can take action immediately,” he said.

The free screening will be available to police officers, firefighters, EMTs and hospital workers, as well as mortuary service providers, correction officers and active duty National Guard personnel. A supervisor must make the appointment and the person being tested must have coronavirus symptoms.

“Calls for service for emergency service haven’t stopped,” Chief Bradley said. “We have to keep those crews, police and fire and EMS, we have to keep them healthy so they can continue to respond to those calls.”

Bradley added that his crews respond to half a dozen coronavirus-related calls every day. Whenever possible, they try not to go into a person’s house; but if they must, they wear a face shield, mask, gown and gloves.

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