By Bill Shields

BARNSTABLE (CBS) – Unless you’re going to a doctor’s office, Cape Cod residents have very few options to be tested for COVID-19. But the region is seeing a growing number of cases. Barnstable currently has the highest positivity rate at 5.41%, while Wellfleet is at 3.91% and Yarmouth is at 3.45%.

Massachusetts has almost grown accustomed to long waits for COVID-19 testing. It’s just part of the drill in many parts of Eastern Massachusetts. But not on the Cape.

“We are deeply worried that Cape Cod is effectively a testing desert, especially when it comes to low-barrier testing. The kind of testing that anyone can get if they have a concern,” said State Sen. Julian Cyr, who represents the Cape and Islands District.

The state has yet to establish a “Stop the Spread” site on the Cape. There are numerous places to get tested, but you need an appointment, or with your doctor. And we now know, testing is key.

“To know when the prevalence of the spread is, but also within your organization or household, who has it,” said Sandwich Fire Chief JJ Burke.

There was a short line at Cape Cod Healthcare in Sandwich. But these tests were by appointment, or you had to be symptomatic.

“No place locally was giving any appointments today,” said one woman in a car on Wednesday.

COVID-19 cases are spiking on the mid-Cape. Chief Burke teaches public health at Boston University, and he knows how important testing is, saying it is vital “to make sure we are not putting sick people in the workplace to affect other people.”

The state has set aside over $500,000 for testing on the Cape. But so far, the money is just sitting there.

Bill Shields