PEABODY — For the first time since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Peabody is “in the green.”
On Wednesday, Peabody was listed as a community with a low risk of coronavirus transmission in the state’s weekly COVID-19 Public Health Report.
The report said that Peabody had a daily incident rate of about 2.8 coronavirus cases per every 100,000 residents. Cities and towns with an incident rate under four cases per 100,000 residents are considered low-risk. The report also notes that 1.31% of COVID-19 tests administered in the city over the past two weeks came back positive.
“It is a reflection of what we've been doing and the hard work of the Board of Health,” said Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt. “Our residents and businesses are doing everything they can to keep the numbers low. This really is a good piece of news, and it lets us know we are doing the right things.”
One of those things, Bettencourt said, is to continue offering free coronavirus testing for Peabody residents.
For the past few weeks, Bettencourt said city employees have had access to free testing. He estimated about 400 city workers, including teachers and City Hall employees, have been tested for the virus so far.
After the “great turnout” among teachers and other city employees, Bettencourt said he wanted to open up the opportunity to get tested to Peabody residents.
“I felt it was an important service to provide with so much anxiety in the community,” Bettencourt said. “People should be able to know if they have the coronavirus so they can take the steps they need to make sure they are healthy.”
On Wednesday, the city held its first “Free COVID Testing” event at the Comunidade de Cristo church, where Bettencourt said 198 people were tested.
Bettencourt added that most of those tested get their results within 24 to 48 hours.
The next “Free COVID Testing” event is scheduled for Friday at St. John the Baptist Church, at 17 Chestnut St. from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
Testing is free for all residents over the age of 5.
Bettencourt said that if the events continue to be well-received and well-attended, the city will continue to host free coronavirus testing on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Bettencourt also noted that even though the city is now considered low-risk, residents must continue to wear masks, social distance and take other measures to keep the community safe during the pandemic.
"We must continue to remain vigilant however and follow the important CDC guidelines, particularly regarding physical distance and face masks," he said in an email to Peabody residents on Thursday.
Staff writer Erin Nolan can be reached at 978-338-2534, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @erin_nolan_.