BOSTON — Long lines formed Friday as the state opened free COVID-19 testing in eight communities that are seeing elevated spread of the virus.


Before the doors could even open Friday, there was a line outside MGH’s Chelsea Healthcare Center with people waiting to get tested for COVID-19.

“This testing is available regardless of whether they’ve had symptoms or whether they’ve had a contact,” said Jacqueline Chu, medical director at the Respiratory Illness Clinic at MGH Chelsea.

At Marlborough Hospital, where testing was supposed to end for the day at noon on Friday, a long line of cars remained an hour later. Many others were turned away and asked to return next week.

The testing sites will be open through Aug. 14 in Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough and New Bedford. Those communities were selected because they currently have a positive test rate which is significantly higher than the state average even while testing of residents in those areas has decreased.

While the testing locations are being placed in those eight communities, officials said the sites will be open to all residents of Massachusetts.

Statewide the 14-day positive rate of COVID-19 testing is 2.25 percent, but in Lynn they’re at 4.81 percent and both Lawrence and Chelsea are above 7 percent.

“We’re still periodically seeing people at work coming in who have respiratory illness to the point that maybe they need to go into the hospital,” Chu said.

“This pandemic is not over in this city and even though our numbers are looking much better, people still have to be vigilant,” Chelsea Town Manager Tom Ambrosino said. “The pandemic is still with us and we are very concerned about a second spike here.”

“Focusing our efforts to increase testing in these communities will help identify new cases and stop the spread,” Gov. Charlie Baker said.

“Increased testing within these communities will help to identify new cases of COVID-19 and break the chains of community transmission,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.

Baker urged all residents in those areas to get tested, even if they do not have symptoms. Previously, testing requirements included exhibiting symptoms or having known contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.

“For us, it’s really important. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this,” said Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. “The more people we can test, the more we know who are sick, and we can quarantine those people and then know the number of people who aren’t.

If other communities exhibit similar increases in positive testing rates, Baker said the state may open testing sites in additional locations.


Source: WCVB

Original WCVB Article

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