Acushnet's fire chief was not happy yesterday morning. After trying to offer COVID-19 testing to the people of Acushnet and the town's neighboring communities, Chief Kevin Gallagher was frustrated by the fact that his testing site seems to be the only location with availability on the SouthCoast, and he feels like it is overwhelming the town with traffic.

"The problem is other towns are not standing up their own. We're quickly becoming THE testing facility for Southeastern Massachusetts," Chief Gallagher said. "We've had people over the past few weeks from Tiverton, Rhode Island, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Eastham, Provincetown, and Lawrence."

The chief said other communities need to figure out how to test and service their residents. Gallagher said when he sees the addresses on the forms he asks if they really came 50 or 60 miles or more to get tested, and they are saying yes.

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Gallagher is frustrated because he feels that testing is often overshadowed by vaccinations by higher levels of government and is too often ignored.

"We're the level of government closest to the people. We're the ones that end up performing the tasks that others debate about," he said. "It was so disheartening to see the governor release two million at-home tests to 102 communities. What that doesn't address is that we are contiguous to New Bedford, a city that received tens of thousands of at-home tests to just hand out."

Gallagher said that yesterday's gridlock in town was a result of a perfect storm of post-holiday testing and a lack of available testing in other parts of the SouthCoast.

"What happened yesterday we should have expected, but we didn't," he said. "We pretty much shut down our town for hours. That can't happen again."

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