PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The city of Pawtucket is relocating a COVID-19 test site to make room for new development in the city’s Conant Thread District.
Mayor Donald Grebien tells 12 News the test site, utilized by the Beat COVID-19 initiative for Pawtucket and Central Falls, will move to 354 Pine Street in Pawtucket on Tuesday.
The site has moved three times since April.
The site was originally opened at the Rhode Island College “Hub” in Central Falls but later moved down to Dexter Street in Pawtucket when the college needed the space again during the summer.
Now, a private developer needs the Dexter Street property to get started on a commercial and residential project.
Grebien said the Peyser Group, based out of New Jersey, is purchasing land near the eventual commuter rail hub in Pawtucket. The project, currently titled Dexter Street Commons, is a roughly $43 million long-term investment.
“Because of that development, the timeline got narrowed down from us to do that relocation,” Grebien said. “So, it’s a good thing that we’re growing and we have exciting things that are happening in the city.”
“We had to make sure that rather than just moving it quickly, we did it thoroughly. So, we’ve been working on this for about a month with the National Guard to make sure the site was more conducive, larger, and this site has met all of the challenges, if you will, of the last two sites,” Grebien continued.
Grebien says the city felt the Pine Street site was larger, better for traffic flow, and still easy enough for Central Falls residents to get to. Like the previous two sites, the new location will be both walk-up and drive-thru for residents.
Pawtucket and Central Falls residents can schedule a test at this site through the multilingual Beat COVID-19 hotline created in April.
Grebien says as more communities are starting to see an uptick in coronavirus cases, the hotline is getting as many as 200 calls a day from Pawtucket and Central Falls residents.
Out of those 200 calls, Grebien says about 115 of those callers end up scheduling tests at the designated test site with the initiative, and the rest of the calls are to help with any COVID-19-related assistance.
“You have professionals who are either on the call or returning the call, talking about getting symptoms, helping folks with family services, with care packages. So, it was more of an all-inclusive hotline,” Grebien said.
Due to less demand in the travel industry when the pandemic started, Collette travel agency was able to rent out the space and have workers staff the lines.
Grebien says various partnerships, and boots on the ground in the community have grown the program.
“We’ve got some great, great partners that have done the grassroots, almost like the old school campaigning right? Everything is done at this level where we had to start from scratch, and because of the relationships, we’ve been able to, again, help mitigate, help educate, and help hopefully in a lot of ways, prevent,” Grebien said.
All coronavirus testing sites in Rhode Island that are run by the state will be closed Oct. 12 in observation of Columbus Day. State health officials said operations will resume as normal on Tuesday.