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Mayor Daniel Rivera, with Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Deborah Wilson, President and CEO of Lawrence General Hospital and community healthcare partners, announced the opening of the Lawrence Community COVID-19 Testing Center, a Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing site for Lawrence residents at a press conference earlier today. The City of Lawrence will invest $1M to test 1,000 Lawrence residents daily and has contracted with Lawrence General Hospital to operationalize the Testing Center. “Lawrence is currently a hotspot for Coronavirus cases, 5th in the state for total people affected and 4th per-capita. In order to stop the spread and keep everyone safe, testing is a major factor in the menu of strategies we must be doing,” said Mayor Rivera. “Not since the Civil War have we had this level of crisis across our nation. Until we stood up this testing site, roughly 180 tests per day were being conducted on Lawrence residents. Testing 1,000 residents per day ensures our community has ample access to testing.”
According to the Massachusetts High Technology Council’s April 2020 “Back to Work Planning Presentation”, there are a large variety of possible strategies to help reduce the spread of the virus; amongst them, masks and face coverings, personal hygiene, and social distancing, all which the Governor and the City have implemented as effective and lowest cost. However, we need higher cost and more effective measures such as testing and tracing as well. Testing and tracing strategies can more than double the impact on the spread of the virus of self-isolation alone. That is more than two times the effectiveness of self-isolation alone.
Three important factors to a testing and tracing strategy include: (1) how many infected are identified and isolated, (2) how many contacts are traced and quarantined, and (3) how quickly each is done. The countries that have contained the pandemic only find 1-3% positive cases during testing. As of May 18th, 9.9% of Massachusetts cases come back positive; for Lawrence, as of May 12th, it was 33%, which means we need to significantly increase the level of testing. In order to do this, we need to expand who to test today and make testing as efficient as possible. I know it will be hard and expensive but I agree that we should have a goal of 100K test per day in Massachusetts. Each group of policies could theoretically reduce the spread of the virus enough on their own to reopen the economy.
Lawrence General Hospital will operationalize the testing site, with community healthcare partners including Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, who will lead the contact-tracing efforts launched this week with Partners In Health, and Mass General Brigham. “Our objective is to test residents of Lawrence so that we can stop this pandemic’s progress, keep our community healthy and ultimately get back to providing all of the preventative and elective care this community needs to live long, healthy lives”, said Deborah J. Wilson, President and CEO of Lawrence General Hospital.
“This new testing site is a great example of how community and health care partners can work together to increase COVID-19 testing, and we’re grateful to Mayor Rivera, Lawrence General Hospital, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center and others for making this initiative happen,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As we begin our phased reopening, increased testing will remain an important priority, and our Administration is committed to boosting testing capacity and access for residents across the Commonwealth.”
Lynn Stofer, President of Mass General Brigham Community Physicians Organization said: “Our health system is committed to bringing every resource possible to combat the COVID-19 crisis, especially in communities like Lawrence that have been among the hardest hit. Efforts like this partnership are crucially important. As we all know, testing is an essential tool in the battle against COVID-19 and we believe that this initiative will go a long way in helping us to flatten the curve in Lawrence and ultimately in defeating this virus.”
John Silva, President of Greater Lawrence Family Health Center said: “Greater Lawrence Family Health Center is proud to be part of this expanded testing effort for the residents of Lawrence in collaboration with Lawrence General Hospital, the City, and Mass General Brigham. We are especially proud to be taking an active role in leading the contact tracing efforts launched this week by the State and Partners in Health, that will help identify those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at some point and either need to quarantine or be tested at the new testing site in Lawrence. These collective efforts will hopefully help to flatten the curve here in Lawrence and decrease the number of positive cases amongst our patient population and the Lawrence community.”
Testing Site Hours:
The Lawrence Community COVID-19 Testing Center will permit patients to stay in their vehicle as they are directed through a swab test collection lane. Tests will be collected by a clinical team with members from both Lawrence General Hospital and Pentucket Medical Associates. The Lawrence General Hospital Laboratory team will have samples with results transmitted directly to the ordering provider. Greater Lawrence Family Health Center will notify their respective patients and nurses from Lawrence General Hospital will call all other patients with all positive and negative results once received about three days after testing. Each individual being tested will also receive a Care Kit, supplied by Mass General Brigham, consisting of several masks, hand sanitizer, soap, bottle of water, and educational materials about COVID-19 infections, isolation of infected individuals, social distancing, handwashing, and available local support services, all in both English and Spanish. PCR testing and nasopharyngeal swabs will be used for sample collection, assistance in acquiring adequate testing materials will be provided by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.