A large “mea culpa” to residents who waited patiently to get a COVID test this past Tuesday and had to be turned away. The process failed and many of you went away understandably frustrated and angry. As Town Administrator I take responsibility for the failures and apologize for the poor performance.
A large turn-out coupled with glitches with the vendor’s computers quickly created a line of waiting cars that stretched up Pine Street. To add insult to injury, the vendor informed us late in the morning that they only had 200 tests and could not get any more for the day. After counting out the people we could test, we had to tell the majority of people who were still waiting that we would not be able to test them. Not a good situation all around.
We are regrouping. We are not going ahead with Saturday’s planned testing due to the lack of assurances that we would avoid the problems that plagued us Tuesday. We hope to announce new dates with a new approach, including pre-registration and better-defined time slots. Please check the Town’s web site for updated details.
The good news is that 200 of you were able to make it through the long wait and received a COVID test. The goal of the testing is to capture COVID positive but asymptomatic individuals and have them quarantine to avoid spreading the disease. And, to the credit of Manchester residents, a very large number of you were willing to participate, a much larger percentage than what other towns have experienced.
We are in this troubling period where the number of infections keep climbing, not only locally, but throughout the state and the country. The post-Thanksgiving bump in cases is quite evident, pointing to a rise in extended family gatherings. Governor Baker has re-imposed some restrictions – reduced capacity in stores and offices, closing museums and indoor performance venues, etc. Some cities are going further, for example closing bars and placing additional restrictions on restaurants. It would not be surprising if the Governor took additional steps to reimpose further restrictions as well, especially with another likely rise in cases attributable to the Christmas and New Year celebrations that are almost here.
While vaccinations against COVID have begun, it will be months before enough of us are vaccinated to curb the amount of infections. Our best strategies for now remain wearing a face mask, restricting our gatherings to our households only, maintaining physical distancing, and continuing extra frequent handwashing.
Please continue to be vigilant. As tempting as it is to reconnect with family and friends this holiday season, it is in our best interest to resist. And we will regroup and get a better testing process in place to help you know if you are an unsuspecting carrier. Again, my apologies to the many who were stranded in the testing line on Tuesday. Your attempt to do the right thing is appreciated and we will have a better process in place the next time.