HAVERHILL — Nearly 200 residents took advantage of the first of two days of free COVID-19 testing ahead of the Christmas holiday, according to Mayor James Fiorentini.
Tuesday marks the second day residents who are asymptomatic, or not experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, can receive a test free of charge. Swabs are being given between noon and 6 p.m. at the Amvets hall on Primrose Street. As of press time, all appointment slots were booked, according to the AFC Urgent Care online scheduling service.
The first day of the free testing was Saturday, when nearly 200 residents flocked to the temporary test site at the city's Highway Department garage on Primrose Street.
Testing comes courtesy of AFC Urgent Care in Methuen, Fiorentini said. The mayor said he was unable to return state-funded testing to Haverhill and reached out to several other testing companies, but none were able to accommodate the city's need. Then he turned to his niece, Lisa Savinelli Williams, who is the owner of AFC Urgent Care in Methuen.
"The citizens of Haverhill should be very grateful that when no one else could provide this critically needed service, Lisa stepped up to the plate to help out her hometown," Fiorentini said.
Fiorentini said he hopes AFC administers a total of 1,500 free tests to residents by the end of the year.
He said the city is paying the $115 cost per test with CARES Act money Haverhill received from the federal government to help with pandemic-related issues. He said the city's CARES Act money must be used by Dec. 30.
In a message to residents posted on his Haverhill News Facebook page Sunday, the mayor encouraged locals to remain vigilant despite the start of the Pfizer vaccine being given.
"Our numbers are still high, and I know it’s scary right now," Fiorentini said. "Hang in there and continue to be cautious. Help is on the way."
According to numbers released by the mayor's office Sunday, a total of 4,623 residents have tested positive for the virus. Seventy-nine have died.