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Lawrence mayor announces more mobile testing for COVID-19 and warns residents to ‘stop the parties’

Health care workers dressed in full PPE test people for coronavirus outside of Lawrence General Hospital in May.
Health care workers dressed in full PPE test people for coronavirus outside of Lawrence General Hospital in May.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

On Tuesday Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera unveiled a new mobile health unit that will test more people in the city for the coronavirus, and warned residents that they need to be more vigilant when it comes to wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings.

“We’re here because we’re still having problems with COVID in our community,” Rivera said at a press conference Tuesday. “Because people are still having parties in their homes and celebrations without wearing masks and social distancing. We have to stop that. People are still traveling outside of the city, outside of the country, and not quarantining when they come home and not getting tested when they come home, or ignoring the test results and still going to work. People are still going to work, sick. They think it’s a cold or an allergy, they still go to work and then they find out when they get tested they have it, and they’ve been at work [for] a week. We have to stop doing that.”

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As of Monday evening, the city had 4,936 residents test positive for the coronavirus and 143 deaths from COVID-19, he said.

“We’ve lost 143 souls to this virus,” he said.

Rivera also noted that Lawrence has been marked as a “red community week after week, now having the second highest daily incidence rate in the state while still falling 19th for testing rates.”

The city’s new $255,000 mobile health unit will be operated by Lawrence General Hospital and will offer free COVID-19 testing to every Lawrence neighborhood.

“Because we know the more people that we get tested, the more people get help, the better is for the community at large to stop the spread of coronavirus,” Rivera said. “So, if you see the mobile health unit rolling through your neighborhood, follow it, go get tested. It is easy and it’s free.”

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This is the third mobile testing vehicle to be used to screen for COVID-19 in Lawrence, according to city officials.

Deborah Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Lawrence General Hospital, also spoke at Tuesday’s press conference and applauded the city’s purchase of the new mobile health unit, which will visit neighborhoods to provide COVID-19 tests to residents "and hopefully, someday, COVID-19 vaccines,” she said.

“This is a very important part of stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Wilson. “It was only a short six months ago where 70 percent of the beds at Lawrence General Hospital were being used to take care of very, very sick patients afflicted with the COVID-19 virus. We’ve seen the swift and serious impact of this virus, and we need to do everything we can to stop it.”

Rivera reiterated his message to residents, urging them to follow social distancing guidelines and other public health protocols to curb the spread of the virus. “Please stop the parties in your homes,” said Rivera. “Stop the travel outside without quarantining, and without getting tested. Stop going to work sick. Wear your mask in public, and in your homes, if there’s gonna be more than 10 or 15 people in your house, you should wear a mask. Stop being comfortable with people around you, just because you know them or they’re your cousin or your brother’s cousin, or your sister’s cousin. And by God, get tested.”


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.