Baker asks for major disaster declaration, says 21 labs are now testing for coronavirus

BOSTON (WHDH) - Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Thursday that he has filed for federal disaster assistance and said that 21 labs across the Commonwealth are now testing for the coronavirus as the number of positive cases continues to skyrocket.

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If the Federal Emergency Management Agency approves the state’s major disaster declaration request, a portion of the funding will be set aside to help people who have lost their jobs and don’t qualify for unemployment benefits, Baker said during a news conference at the State House.

The federal funding would also boost assistance, provide needed support, and increase flexibility in local communities as they respond to the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 2,000 Bay State residents and killed 25, according to Baker.

“The major disaster declaration would give support and flexibility to our communities as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.

Baker added, “We hope to see the feds move on this quickly so we can get those resources deployed to our residents as soon as possible.”

Baker also announced that there are now 21 labs testing for coronavirus in the state and that he expects the number of positive cases to continue to increase.

Massachusetts is working to convert the Newton Pavilion — a former Boston Medical Center branch — into a facility that will provide coronavirus care for those experiencing homelessness in and around Boston, Baker said.

Baker said the Pavillion will serve as a safe place to recover, in addition to being a post-discharge facility for anyone who doesn’t have a home to go to. The facility has about 250 beds.

The governor took a moment to thank all of the parents who are caring for their children as they work remotely from home.

“To all the parents juggling work and kids at home, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Baker said.

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Baker went on to remind residents that they can text COVIDMA to 888-777 for coronavirus alerts and updates.

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