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In Lawrence, the COVID-19 pandemic has been ‘the perfect storm’

via Laura Crimaldi, Boston Globe

More than 800 Lawrence residents get tested each day for COVID-19, some waiting up to four hours. The public school system has conducted classes remotely all year. The city was a leader in issuing high fines to people who refused to wear a mask.

But despite the aggressive measures, the pandemic made itself known quickly in Lawrence and has refused to relinquish its grip on the city, which has a positivity rate of nearly 15 percent and the full slate of inequities that fuel virus transmission. Statewide, the seven-day average positivity rate is 5.3 percent.

“For Lawrence, it’s been the perfect storm,” said Mayor Dan Rivera, who still was guiding the city through its recovery from the 2018 gas explosions when the pandemic took hold. “We have the travel problem. We have the gathering problem. We have the socio-economic and racial inequities problem.”

According to the latest state report, Shirley is the only community with a higher positivity rate. Last month, the state classified the town as being at high risk for COVID-19 transmission after inmates at a correctional facility there developed the virus.

As of Sunday, 10,226 Lawrence residents had tested positive for COVID-19, including 328 new cases on Saturday, which broke a record set two days earlier for the highest, one-day count of new coronavirus patients in the city.

“The positivity rate keeps going up. The cases keep going up and it keeps getting worse,” said Mike Armano, director of the Board of Health and Inspectional Services.

There have been 2,002 positive cases among residents between 20 and 29 years old, the highest among all age groups, city data show. Less than 2 percent of all Lawrence cases were in patients between 80 and 89 years old, though that group so far accounts for a third of all the city’s deaths.

In another sign of the pandemic’s worsening toll, Lawrence General Hospital on Tuesday placed a pause on elective procedures.


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