LAWRENCE (CBS) — The city of Lawrence is stepping up its coronavirus testing with the purchase of a new mobile health unit. It cost $255,000 of the $1 million the city will spend to increase testing, which is low compared to other parts of the state.
Mayor Dan Rivera said the mobile health unit will offer coronavirus testing, flu shots, and the coronavirus vaccine once it is available. It is run by Lawrence General Hospital.
‘The mobile unit that you see here before you, however glorious and beautiful, is actually just a temporary one because we want to get to work today,” Rivera said Tuesday.
The official unit will be ready in January 2021.
“Our Lawrence families already have to deal with so much to worry about from the job loss, remote learning, their need for child care, and other things. So every day we’re trying to figure out how to get more people tested and make it easier, make it as easy as possible,” said Rivera. “If you see the mobile health unit rolling through your neighborhood, follow it, and go get tested. It is easy and it’s free.”
According to the mayor, about 400 residents are tested a day for coronavirus. He wants to see that number increase to 600 and eventually 1,000.
Lawrence is one of Massachusetts’s hardest-hit communities with more than 4,700 coronavirus cases. It is designated as a red zone by the state.
“Bringing the testing to you is the goal of this vehicle. We recognize that there is testing on Canal Street but quite honestly, that’s really geared to people that are driving vehicles and that’s not the great majority of people in Lawrence. We need to serve the people where they are,” said Dr. Eduardo Haddad of Lawrence General Hospital.
Rivera is encouraging everyone, including undocumented immigrants, to get tested. At Tuesday’s event, he gave out his personal cell phone number and told anyone to call him if they can’t get tested or run into issues.