SALEM — The city is launching a month of free daily COVID-19 testing starting Monday.

Officials announced on Friday that testing through the state's Stop the Spread program, started in July, will become available for free to all Salem residents and people who work in Salem starting Monday, Aug. 17.

The testing will take place at various times throughout the week at Salem High School, 77 Willson St. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, it runs from 2 to 6 p.m., and on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, it runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are no listed Sunday hours.

Those seeking a test do not need to show proof of insurance or citizenship. Testing is via nasal swab, administered by EMTs from Fallon Ambulance and processed at the Broad Institute Laboratory. Those tested can expect to receive results within 36 hours.

The announcement came just days before the city was due to start the Salem Coronavirus Awareness Network. That program, similar in nature, boasted free testing for COVID-19 on a set of dates starting Tuesday, Aug. 18 and continuing into mid-October.

On Wednesday, however, the city was tagged by the state as a high-risk community for COVID-19 spread given an increase in daily reported cases. The announcement caused officials to scrap plans for in-person learning in Salem Public Schools and ask the state for additional testing days "to help better surveil current transmission counts in our community," the city's statement read.

Officials have decided to postpone the Salem Coronavirus Awareness Network until later in the fall, after the testing under the Stop the Spread program ends. This ensures that the city can offer free testing of some sort through the Haunted Happenings season and into November.

The announcement also came about a day after the Salem YMCA confirmed a staff member and multiple children in the Salem YMCA's day care program had tested positive for the virus.

City health agent David Greenbaum said day cares "have done very well" with COVID-19, "including the YMCA."

"I don't want to call it bad luck, but it's just something that happened," Greenbaum said. "They didn't do anything wrong or anything like that, and we haven't had any other incidents in clusters at day cares."

Contact Salem reporter Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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