SOMERVILLE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — As of Wednesday morning, the city of Somerville has five case of coronavirus. Somerville's Mayor Joe Curtatone expects that number to jump quickly as appropriate levels of coronavirus tests become more available.
At a press event on Wednesday morning, Mayor Curtatone said he hopes the new drive-thru coronavirus testing facility established at Somerville Hospital by the Cambridge Health Alliance will help in that effort.
"If we have that data, if we have that information, we can be strategic in how we can try to contain the virus," Mayor Curtatone said. "We can get people the services they need, we can protect healthcare workers."
In a press release, Cambridge Health Alliance said the location "will open effective 9 a.m. March 18, at the Crown Street parking lot adjacent to Somerville Hospital." However, it will not be a completely open location; patients must be referred by a physician.
The CHA also said the facility will initially only be available to pre-screened Alliance members.
"Due to continued limited availability of tests, only patients who meet federal criteria and are existing CHA primary care patients are eligible for testing at this location. Patients MUST CALL their primary care provider to be screened; tests will not be provided without prior authorization," the statement said.
"The idea in here is to provide patients with the care that they need, protect our patients, other patients, and our staff," Dr. Assaad Sayad, CEO of Cambridge Health Alliance told WBZ NewsRadio.
Dr. Sayad and Mayor Curtatone said they hope it is the first of these kinds of mobile test tents, and that future sites will be opened to the public.
In the meantime they are urging residents not to panic, to heed to advice of health officials and local officials, and the practice extreme social distancing.
WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports: