BOSTON (CBS) – Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants residents who have joined recent protests in the city to get a coronavirus test.
Thousands of people have been marching through the streets of Boston, demanding justice and change in the police department after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
There have been concerns that these large gatherings could lead to an increase in coronavirus cases.
“As people lift their voices to fight racism and injustice we want to make sure that we keep them safe,” Mayor Marty Walsh said at a news conference Wednesday.
So, the city of Boston is working with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to offer free coronavirus testing on Wednesday and Thursday, whether you have symptoms or not.
The pop-up test site is in the parking lot of the Washington Park Mall in Roxbury. Testing is available to anyone on a walk-in or appointment basis.
“The more testing we have available for people who may have had high exposure the better it can help people understand if they have illness and it can help us understand what the transmission dynamics were like,” said Dr. Abraar Karan, a physician at Harvard Medical School working on the COVID-19 response in Massachusetts.
Dr. Karan says in order to get an accurate result people shouldn’t get tested immediately after attending a demonstration.
“If you get tested the same exact day or just the day after you may not have enough virus at that point to actually have the test be positive,” he told WBZ-TV.
If you do get a negative result, Dr. Karan still recommends quarantining to keep others safe.
“See if you develop symptoms over that couple weeks’ period. You know with these things you don’t want to take chances you don’t want to inadvertently infect a family member,” he said.
Shawn Philips said she kept her mask on at the protests and hasn’t had symptoms, but went to the free testing site Wednesday.
“I have participated in three of the protests,” said Shawn Philips. “I felt like since they were offering it, it’s not gonna hurt to come do it.”
Philips said the cause was well worth it. “I’ll continue to march as long as they have them, but doing what I can to keep myself and my family safe,” Philips said.
A neighborhood activist said the city was too slow to open up the testing site in Roxbury. “Every other place in this city has gotten support,” said Louis Elisa, who heads the Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association. “In the middle of the black community, where black lives matter, we’ve not gotten that support.”
Testing is available from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday Results are expected in four-to-five days.
Boston is also offering coronavirus tests at more than 20 other locations across the city.