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VIRUS TESTING ON THE RISE AS CASES SPIKE IN LYNN

BY GAYLA CAWLEY| November 12, 2020

LYNN — As coronavirus cases continue to surge in the city, the Lynn Community Health Center has also seen a significant uptick in the number of people seeking testing.

In Lynn, 87 new cases were reported on Thursday alone, which marks a daily increase that hasn’t been seen since last May.

Case numbers have been on the rise in Lynn since early September, which unsurprisingly has led to more people choosing to get tested, said David Schaffner, team medical director of urgent care for Lynn Community Health Center, who runs COVID-19 testing for the health center.

“With cases spiking just like we saw back in May, we tend to see higher testing numbers overall,” said Schaffner. “More people want to get tested, which makes sense.”

Schaffner said the health center has seen a 20 to 30 percent increase in the number of people being tested this week, from Monday to Wednesday. About 1,600 people had been tested each of the previous two weeks, he said.

On Tuesday, 360 people were tested, which marked the highest number who were tested at the health center on a single day throughout the pandemic, Schaffner said.

He attributes the rise in testing to a number of reasons. There’s a sense of nervousness among people, who are paying attention to rising case numbers in the city. In addition, people are choosing to get tested before the holidays, and for work and travel, he said.

To prepare for winter weather, the Lynn Community Health Center secured two trailers for outdoor testing, which are now located at the center’s new testing site at 50 Blake St., which opened Wednesday.

“It opened yesterday and it went pretty smoothly,” Schaffner said Thursday. “We tested 329 people yesterday.”

Not only is testing on the rise, but the positive test rate has also been climbing pretty steadily in the city since early September, which matches state trends, Schaffner said.

Lynn’s positive test rate over the past 14 days is 7.48 percent, according to the state Department of Public Health, which marks an increase over last week when it was 6.5 percent.

At the health center, which tracks positive test rate over a seven-day period, the rate is around 11 percent, according to Schaffner.

Although he wouldn’t consider the city’s recent surge a spike, as cases have been steadily increasing over the past couple of months, Schaffner said “it’s definitely in the wrong direction.”

Still, the surge has been particularly noticeable over the past few weeks in the city, which has consistently been reporting double-digit case increases. A number of those days have included increases of 40-plus cases, according to city data.

As of Thursday, Lynn had 6,347 cases and 125 deaths. A total of 862 cases remain active and 5,360 people have recovered, according to city data.

Lynn’s daily incidence rate over the past 14 days has increased to 45.1 new cases per 100,000 residents per day, according to the DPH.

Schaffner said advice from medical experts on how to bring those case numbers down has not changed.

“Our advice is the same as it has been for awhile,” said Schaffner. “Make sure you’re wearing a mask when you’re around other people. Limiting gatherings and non-essential travel. If you have any symptoms, get a test. If you’re exposed, get a test.”

People can walk in for a test or call (781) 581-3900 for a scheduled appointment. Visit www.lchcnet.org for testing hours. Anyone can receive a test regardless of symptoms or exposure, and people do not need to be LCHC patients or Lynn residents to get tested.

New cases were also reported in Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Revere, Saugus, and Swampscott on Thursday. An additional death was also reported in Revere.

Lynnfield now has 216 cases and 14 deaths, Marblehead has 322 cases and 30 deaths, Nahant has 74 cases and six deaths, Revere has 3,741 cases and 110 deaths, Saugus has 1,014 cases and 44 deaths, and Swampscott has 212 cases and 11 deaths.

Numbers were not updated in Peabody, which had 1,698 cases and 193 deaths as of Wednesday.