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Coronavirus testing center for public safety workers opens at Patriot Place

Governor Charlie Baker discussed COVID-19 at a briefing last week.
Governor Charlie Baker discussed COVID-19 at a briefing last week.Sam Doran/Pool

A drive-through COVID-19 testing center for public safety workers opened on Sunday morning at Patriot Place in Foxborough, adding the capacity for about 200 tests a day administered at what is normally a Gillette Stadium parking lot.

The site, opened as a partnership between the New England Patriots, state agencies, and contractors, is expected to perform 200 tests per day for police officers, firefighters, and other public safety workers who have symptoms.

Governor Charlie Baker spoke at the testing center Sunday afternoon, and he said he expected similar sites to open in coming days in the Merrimack Valley and Western Massachusetts.

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“While the effects of this public health emergency are obviously keenly felt by all of us, some of the greatest challenges associated with meeting it head on are being met by our men and women in public safety,” the governor said. “These professionals are working in high-risk environments to protect our communities, and we felt it was important to continue to expand our capacity to support them.”

Workers will make appointments through their agencies, which will schedule them with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The site operates seven days a week, and officials said it will provide results within a day or two.

Behind a lectern set up for the governor to speak, the white tents of the testing center were open, their awnings swaying in the breeze as emergency workers clad in protective gear milled about.

The event follows the news last week that the the Kraft family, which owns the Patriots, had deployed a team plane to China to deliver about one million desperately needed N95 respirator masks to health care workers in Massachusetts.

The number of coronavirus tests being conducted has risen after a slow start here and around the country as the virus began to spread in the United States. On Saturday, the state Department of Public Health said there had been 5,838 new tests, and that a total of 68,800 had been conducted since the beginning of the outbreak.

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There are 11,736 known cases of COVID-19 in the state, according to data released Saturday, and 216 people have died. Updated daily numbers are typically released in late afternoon.


Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @andyrosen.