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Free COVID-19 testing in Swampscott takes a hit

This article was published 2 year(s) and 5 month(s) ago.

SWAMPSCOTT— Swampscott scaled back its free, town-wide COVID-19 testing this week to just two days, despite the constant rise in cases across the state and a highly anticipated post-holiday spike in numbers. 

Testing will now be offered Wednesday, Jan. 6 from 2:30-6:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 9 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Prior to the first week of January, the town was offering free testing Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings at Veterans Memorial Field House at 585 Humphrey St.

“The federal government has let us down. They’ve failed to get funding to us, and our CARES Act funding runs out at the end of this week,” said Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald on the new testing schedule. 

Swampscott was relying on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to pay for the widespread testing in town, but as Fitzgerald noted, the funding is nearly gone. As a result, the town’s testing capacity is suffering. 

The cost of testing hundreds of residents was almost $10,000 per day, added Fitzgerald, but he still believes tracking, tracing and testing all of those residents is critical. 

Fitzgerald is now working with state officials to identify ways to secure additional funding. He said this week is critical, as Swampscott is in “dire straits” and may need to look to outside testing facilities for help. 

According to a recent post on the town’s website, residents are encouraged to visit one of the state-sponsored “Stop the Spread” testing sites in other communities if they are unable to attend either of the two dates in Swampscott. Those sites, some of which are located in nearby Lynn and Salem, are open to asymptomatic individuals. 

As of Jan. 4, there have been 645 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Swampscott and 11 COVID-19-related deaths. According to Swampscott’s interactive dashboard, the town saw 86 new cases in the week after Christmas. Swampscott is now looking at a positivity rate of more than 5 percent, putting them in the red, high-risk category based on the state’s guidelines. 

Residents of all ages are welcome to receive the PCR test being offered this week in partnership with Cataldo Ambulance. Upon arriving at the testing site, residents will be directed into a line of vehicles, where they must wait to be registered before receiving what the town considers the “less invasive nasal swab.” 

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