More Sites to Open as Boston Faces Testing Shortage


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BOSTON (State House News Service) — Boston plans to open three additional testing sites by mid-January as demand for COVID-19 tests soars following the holiday season, officials said during a Thursday press conference at City Hall.

With cases rising rapidly as a result of the omicron variant, long lines at testing centers across the state and in Boston have become commonplace. Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Dr. Bisola Ojikutu said city officials understand there is a shortage of tests both in Boston and across the state.

"We are working with our state partners and as soon as we're able to access more rapid tests from them, we will order as many as we can get our hands on and distribute them in a way that we think is equitable across the city," Ojikutu said.

Additional testing sites in Boston come after the Baker administration announced earlier this week four new vaccine sites in Roxbury, Fenway, Lynn, and Taunton and a new state contract that allows municipalities, school districts, public hospitals, and libraries to purchase test kits for $5 to $26 per test.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also plans to distribute 200,000 rapid at-home tests to local school districts for teachers and staff to test themselves before returning to work after the winter break.

As cases continue to mount, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced Thursday that all First Night New Year's Eve events will now take place outdoors in an effort to curb any potential spread of the virus.

Attendees will have an opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or booster during the festivities from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Copley Square while the Whittier Street Center is slated to distribute 1,000 at-home test kits during the festivities.

"There were a few small events scheduled to be held indoors but because our citywide positivity rate is currently 9.5 percent, which is the highest that it has been since testing became widely available during the pandemic, we decided to work very quickly to move these events outdoors," Ojikutu said.

Written by Chris Van Buskirk/SHNS

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