WOBURN - The City of Woburn will offer free COVID-19 testing to all Woburn residents at the Showcase Cinemas property off of Main Street by the Route 128 rotary on Saturday.
Hoping to build off of the success of a school program launched late last month, Mayor Scott Galvin on Friday announced the special weekly residential testing program is being launched through a partnership with Armstrong Ambulance and MIT's Broad Institute.
The Showcase Cinema de Lux Woburn property is situated at 25 Middlesex Canal.
Unlike the school program, which extends free testing to district employees on a weekly basis, residents do not have to sign-up in advance to get tested. The special program is restricted to Woburn residents only.
"It's going to be at the Showcase Cinemas property from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We want to give a special thanks to National Amusements for letting us use their site," said the mayor during a phone interview on Friday morning.
"It will be free testing for Woburn residents. They will need a driver's license and an email address," the mayor explained in a phone interview on Friday morning.
Under the arrangement, in which residents will obtain their results within 24-hours of giving a sample, Amstrong Ambulance staffers will take samples from participants for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Those samples will then be sent off to the MIT laboratory for processing.
According to Galvin, the public-private partnership will continue on a weekly basis, with the mobile testing center being set up at either the movie theatre complex or Woburn Memorial High School every Saturday.
The only COVID-19 testing method used by the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) to compile the state's active case totals, PCR tests work by looking for DNA segments found in the SARS-Cov-2 virus that causes novel coronavirus infections.
PCR tests are considered more reliable than antigen kits, which search for known COVID-19 protein segments. Laboratory technicians say antigen tests are more prone to come up with false negatives — when subjects have contracted virus despite the test showing otherwise.
Unlike antibody tests, which analyze samples for proteins the immune system creates to block COVID-19 replication, PCR test results are believed to accurately predict infective or still contagious cases.
According to the mayor, because PCR tests confirm infectious cases, the data will assist community health department mangers in their fight against a recent surge in citywide COVID-19 cases.
"We're doing this in response to the recent surge in both COVID-19 cases and in positivity rates across the city," the mayor explained. "Increased testing is always a good thing, because we can identify and isolate those who test positive [before they potentially infect others]."