Fearing COVID-19 spread, Rivera urges residents to avoid big Thanksgiving gatherings
This Thanksgiving, Mayor Daniel Rivera wants residents to realize that getting a COVID-19 test doesn't mean it's a free pass to a large family gathering. After all, there's always next year, he said.
Rivera's warnings are important ones. According to city health statistics, one in nine people in Lawrence tested for COVID-19 are found to be infected. According to data released Sunday, a total of 8,199 Lawrence residents have tested positive for the disease and 155 have died. Lawrence now has the highest positivity rate of any city in Massachusetts.
"This Thanksgiving, buy a small turkey and only have Thanksgiving with those you live with," Rivera said as Lawrence sits in the state's red, high-risk category for the 14th straight week. "If you want to plan a big Thanksgiving, plan it for 2021. Don't think that getting tested means that you're safe. A test is a snapshot in time, and if you don't isolate and take care of yourself, you can get it."
Lawrence offers several COVID-19 testing sites across the city free of charge through the state's Stop the Spread program. The largest of those sites is an eight-lane drive-thru service at 70 General St. run by Lawrence General Hospital. According to hospital spokesman Ben French, about 1,500 people are being tested daily at that outdoor site and with a mobile unit.
Wait times are often at least two hours, and Mondays tend to be busiest, French said.
Rivera said the Lawrence Police Department continues to enforce mask mandates and issue fines for noise violations and large gatherings. When police issue a ticket for a noise violation, it comes with a $200 fine. As an added measure to try to stop the spread of coronavirus, the homeowner may receive an additional $300 fine for people not wearing masks.
"It is time for us to make it a personal responsibility to stop the spread," Rivera said. "Stay safe, stay calm and stay home."