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Lawrence sets up plan to deal with coronavirus

by Bill Kirk, Eagle Tribune

After meeting with health and public safety officials Wednesday, Mayor Dan Rivera held a press conference to address ongoing concern about the new coronavirus, commonly called COVID-19.

Using Gov. Charlie Baker's Tuesday declaration of a state of emergency as a guide, Rivera said the city is doing whatever it can to plan for an outbreak.

"We have a plan for everybody," he said, after first addressing the Lawrence Alliance for Education, which was holding its regular monthly meeting at the North Common Educational Complex on Haverhill St. Wednesday evening.

He said Holy Family and Lawrence General officials will be touring the Parthum School on Friday because it has been designated as an "off-site" locations for extra hospital beds if local facilities run out of space.

He said public and private companies will be expanding testing, although access to test kits remains restricted by the state. Hospital officials, he said, are also planning on hosting "drive-through testing" facilities at different locations.

So far, he said, Lawrence seems to have been spared.

He said there is one person who tested positive for the virus in Essex County, but it wasn't in Lawrence. Three people have been tested that he knows of, but their tests came back negative.

The biggest push at the moment, according to the city's Health and Human Services Director Martha Velez, is getting as much information as possible out to those most vulnerable to the disease.

"It's not time to panic, it's time to educate," she said. As such, the her agency is distributing a colorful and informative flyer through various channels to hundreds of people in nursing homes and public housing.


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