Councillors Raise Concerns Over COVID Testing Issues

Long lines, limited testing sites, and large numbers of people from outside the city coming to Chelsea for Covid-19 testing are among the concerns some City Councillors voiced at Monday night’s meeting.

Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson introduced a motion requesting City Manager Thomas Ambrosino ask the Public Health Director to produce a breakdown of the city testing sites and the number of residents versus nonresidents being tested. The primary testing site for the city is at the St. Rose Church on Broadway, but MassGeneral and Beth Israel also conduct some Covid-19 testing at their Chelsea locations.

“I looked into the numbers because I was kind of concerned about seeing the lines, not only at St. Rose, but seeing the cars lined up at Beth Israel backed up on 16 and backed up on Broadway in Revere,” said Robinson. “They had to move cars over to the skating rink just to have some law and order.”

Robinson said he discovered that of the over 9,000 tests administered in Chelsea, they are split fairly evenly among Chelsea and non-Chelsea residents.

“Are we the regional testing site for all these other communities?” Robinson asked. 

If Chelsea is being overburdened with people coming into the city for testing, Robinson said city officials need to get in touch with the state about setting up more testing facilities in Chelsea.

Resident Imane Rharbi also raised concerns about long lines for testing in Chelsea in a letter he sent to the council.

“I do not think enough is being done to protect the wellbeing of our community,” Rharbi stated. “At this point, there is only one Covid test site location at St. Rose, and the line is incredibly long and many people leave at midday.”

District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez said he has spoken to Ambrosino about the long lines and people coming in from neighboring communities.

“When these people come to Chelsea, it is less opportunity for our people in the city to get tested,” said Lopez. 

Lopez said the other communities should have their own testing sites so they do not have to rely upon Chelsea.

Councillor-At-Large Damali Vidot said the city needs to be careful about limiting who can access the Covid-19 testing.

“I myself have been tested in Somerville and Revere,” she said. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and there are limited resources across the Commonwealth. Wherever you can get a test, we should be accommodating people and not trying to ration resources.”

Council President Roy Avellaneda said he is confident that Ambrosino will update the council on the issues at the testing sites and report back to them.

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