BOSTON (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced that Massachusetts is expanding its “Stop the Spread” initiative to three new communities, bringing the total number of hard-hit cities and towns involved in the statewide program to 20.

RELATED: Baker: In-person learning planned in 70 percent of school districts

The state will now start offering free tests for symptomatic and asymptomatic people in Saugus, Salem, and Holyoke, Baker said during a news conference at the State House.

The initiative — which was launched in July to curb the transmission of coronavirus in communities that have had a higher prevalence of COVID-19 and a previous decrease in testing — also includes Agawam, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Framingham, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, and Worcester.

Baker said the average positive coronavirus test rate over the last seven days is 1.4 percent but that the state has seen a “steady climb” in the number of people newly tested.

The seven-day average for the total number of new tests is currently at about 20,000, up from about 16,000 tests conducts in July and 11,000 in June, Baker said.

Baker noted that the Stop the Spread initiative has performed more than 78,000 tests since its launch. As of right now, it’s slated to run through Sept. 11.

The state has also rolled out a map to track the spread of coronavirus at the community level in an effort to identify places that are in need.

(Copyright (c) 2021 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox