WOBURN - As local officials continue to track the second highest spike in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic peaked last spring, the city will again offer free testing to any Woburn resident at the Showcase Cinemas property on Saturday.
According to Mayor Scott Galvin, who late last week finalized arrangements with National Amusements for use of the movie theatre parcel off of Main Street, residents can help the community contain the latest outbreak by seeking out the free service.
Thanks to a partnership with Armstrong Ambulance and MIT's Broad Institute, the pop-up testing clinic will operate between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The service is limited to Woburn residents, who will be asked to provide identification and an email address for their test results — with will be sent to participants within 24 hours.
"The idea here is to identify the positive cases so we can get them isolated sooner," the mayor explained. "Of course, the more testing you do, the more cases you'll find, but the number of cases we saw this weekend eclipsed [our expectations]."
"Really, what we'd like to see is [testing increasing] and the positivity rate going down," he continued, explaining that once the latest outbreak is contained, health department officials should see the percentage of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 dropping.
Last weekend, when the free testing was offered at the Showcase Cinemas parcel at 25 Middlesex Canal Parkway by the Route 128 Rotary, roughly 500 people showed up on short notice.
Before the city-funded testing clinic results were posted, city officials learning that upwards of 100 people tested positive for the viral infection over a three-day period late last week.
Over the weekend, the city also confirmed that seven Woburn students, most of whom are enrolled in the community's middle schools, had tested positive for COVID-19.
"They were no clusters and the students who were positive have been isolated. Their close contacts have been quarantined as well," the mayor explained.
Contact tracers working for the health department have since confirmed those cases are not part a larger cluster being driven by in-school transmissions.
Given those tallies — case numbers which haven't been seen since last spring — Galvin and the Board of Health are understandably concerned.
Though calling upon citizens to look after each other by adhering to prevention protocols like wearing facial coverings and practicing social distancing, the mayor during a recent phone interview expressed his confidence in the community's ability to come together and calmly address the problem.
According to Galvin, with the latest cases still being spread sporadically throughout city neighborhoods — most clusters continue to be centered within individual households — there is still time to act and prevent the type of draconian school and business lockdowns that were implemented last spring.
"We're looking at [COVID-related hospitalizations] at Winchester Hospital and Lahey, and those numbers are definitely going up. But it's not like it was in April. We're in a much better place now…We will get through this," assured the mayor.
"We're asking people to wear masks, practice social distancing, and be careful about getting into crowds," he continued. "This [disease] does spread when you let you're guard down and there's a lot of people around one another."