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Lynn health center offers COVID-19 testing for ‘mass gathering’ participants

By Gayla Cawley | June 17, 2020

LYNN — Lynn Community Health Center is one of more than 50 pop-up sites that will be offering COVID-19 testing this week for people who have attended mass gatherings. 

The free testing clinics, announced by Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, will be offered throughout the state on Wednesday and Thursday. 

The Baker administration is urging anyone who has attended a mass gathering in the past two weeks to get tested at one of the pop-up sites. Test results will be provided to each participant confidentially and participants are encouraged to share the results with their doctors. 

David Schaffner, director of COVID testing and treatment for Lynn Community Health Center, said LCHC will be using its walk-through testing site for this week’s offering. 

The walk-through site, located in the Element Care parking lot at 9 Buffum St., is usually by appointment-only, but people will be allowed to walk up on Wednesday and Thursday, Schaffner said. 

“We just really want to highlight to people that if they were at one of these mass gatherings they should come and get tested,” said Schaffner. “This is a special program and their insurance will not be charged. There will be no cost to them. I would really encourage people to come out and get tested.” 

Schaffner said LCHC has the capacity to test between 200-250 people per day, but can increase staffing to meet a higher demand if necessary. About 20-30 people have signed up for the two-day testing so far and he’s hopeful more people will take advantage of the state program. 

It’s “super important” for people who have attended large gatherings, such as protests, to get tested, he said. Although many people have been wearing masks at those events, chanting and shouting can also contribute to the spread of COVID-19, Schaffner said. 

“With so many people at these gatherings, people’s chances of being exposed are certainly higher,” said Schaffner. “(We can) also get a sense of how mass gatherings contribute to the spread.” 

Other site partners include: Baystate Health, Berkshire Medical Center, Beth Israel Lahey Health, Brockton Community Health Center, Brookside Community Health Center, Cambridge Health Alliance, Community Health Connections, CVS, Fairview Hospital, Lawrence General Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital Chelsea, Outer Cape Health Services, Manet Community Health Center, and UMass Medical Center.

To date, Massachusetts has tested more than 700,000 people for COVID-19. On average, 10,000 individuals are tested each day, comprising 4.4 percent of the state’s population each month, according to a press release from the governor’s office.