City, Coronavirus, News

Boston encourages working residents to access free City-provided COVID-19 testing

Businesses that sign Boston’s “Get the Test Boston” pledge will provide information to their employees about how and when to get tested for COVID-19, the City announced Friday.

The Boston Public Health Commission is encouraging residents and businesses to get tested for COVID-19 as a part of its new “Get the Test Boston” campaign, which was announced on Friday. COURTESY OF PIXABAY

The Boston Public Health Commission created the pledge to encourage businesses and residents to get tested for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms.

Local businesses such as the Boston Red Sox, Wayfair and Rise Construction Management are among those that have signed the pledge.

Nearby colleges that have also put down their names include Emerson College, Roxbury Community College and the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology.

Jackie Cornog, the Dean of Students at BFIT, wrote in a statement BFIT wants to ensure students, staff and faculty, along with the surrounding community, remain healthy.

“Residents in Massachusetts should do everything they can to protect themselves and their neighbors from the spread of COVID-19,” Cornog wrote, “and BFIT is glad to help in that effort.”

Residents can get a free test at two mobile testing sites, which relocate to meet the city’s needs at different times. Other sites have varying policies regarding free tests for individuals without symptoms.

The initiative was created in response to the increase of COVID-19 cases across local and nationwide communities over the past few weeks, according to a BPHC press release.

Boston’s positivity rate has risen to 7.8 percent, up 1.4 percent from last week’s rate of 6.2 percent, the press release stated.

Darlene Lombos, executive secretary-treasurer at the Greater Boston Labor Council, said GBLC has advocated for personal protective equipment, hazard pay and accessible testing for workers in the area.

“The testing is part of a larger strategy for workers who are out there,” Lombos said.

GBLC is encouraging unions to make the pledge and is working to inform them about the importance of having access to testing, Lombos said. The council works with hotel staff, teachers, construction workers and grocery store employees.

For Rise Construction Management, signing the pledge enhanced previous policies at job sites, where construction workers were already wearing masks and other protective gear, CEO Jim Grossmann said.

“Our commitment [is] to make sure that the folks on our job sites are safe,” Grossmann said. “So this felt like an added safety.”

Rise is following policies issued by the City for construction workers, Grossmann said, but has been operating at near-normal capacity on job sites for several months.

Although the pledge policies may reduce operational productivity, Grossmann said improved peace of mind is worth the minor losses.

Lombos said she appreciates the work of the Mayor’s Office on the pledge.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is that our own mayor is taking leadership and modeling what some of these companies should be doing in their own industry,” Lombos said.

Without a vaccine or national strategy, local businesses and services’ increased commitment to testing reflects a crucial cooperative approach to public health, Lombos said.

“We can do our part here locally,” Lombos said. “This is important to model leadership that we want to see more businesses take.”

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