Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Monday that testing for the novel coronavirus is now being offered to all Boston residents.
The Whittier Street Health Center, in Roxbury, is offering scheduled rapid testing for the general public, Mondays through Saturdays. The clinic is asking residents to schedule tests by phone.
Walsh said the center serves a largely African-American population and he hopes testing will help address racial and other disparities in COVID-19 infections in Boston.
Incomplete data released by the city last week showed that African American residents made up about 40% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Boston, while African Americans represent only about a quarter of city residents.
On Friday, the mayor announced a “Health Equities” Task Force to address disparities in infections among different racial and ethnic groups.
“A big part of ensuring equity is making sure communities have access to screening and testing,” Walsh said.
Meanwhile Walsh said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Boston doubled in the past week, and that the anticipated surge of cases requiring hospitalization is already underway.
Over the weekend, the city re-opened the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center as a temporary field hospital, with 500 beds reserved for homeless COVID-19 patients and another 500 beds reserved as overflow capacity for local hospitals.
The mayor expressed sympathy for residents and businesses struggling during the shutdown; but had criticism for remarks by “certain federal leaders” — presumably including the president — suggesting the economy could re-open as soon as May.
“That’s not only unrealistic it’s completely irresponsible. We are still in the very beginning of this surge,” Walsh said. “We all want to go back to work and we all want to go back to normal society but this is not the time to talk about that.”