Gov. Baker: Mass. will soon see ‘enormous increase’ in coronavirus testing

MARLBOROUGH, MASS. (WHDH) - Massachusetts will soon see an “enormous increase” in coronavirus testing, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday after touring Quest Diagnostics in Marlborough.

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“We believe that over the course of the next several days and weeks, there will be an enormous increase in the amount of testing that takes place on a daily basis here in the Commonwealth,” Baker told reporters during a press conference.

Quest Diagnostics, a private company, was authorized by the FDA earlier this month to provide testing for COVID-19. Initially, only the CDC and state labs were permitted to test for the virus.

“I do believe that with the pivots and adjustments that are being made by organizations like Quest here in Marlborough and by many of our hospital partners and by the state lab and other organizations, we will get to the point where we’re doing the amount of testing every day that we believe we need to be doing,” Baker added.

 

Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said that by Monday, the state hopes to have the capacity to process 3,500 tests between the state lab in Jamaica Plain, Quest Diagnostics, and the Broad Insitute.

“I know that the speed to get test specimens in and responses back to providers will be quickened,” Sudders told reporters.

Baker has previously said that expanding testing is among his top priorities.

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Tests are currently being prioritized for first responders, healthcare workers, and those in critical condition, according to Sudders.

Come next week, Quest Diagnostics says it is aiming to process 20,000 tests per day on a national level.

In addition to increasing test capabilities, Baker said the state is working to acquire more personal protective equipment for those on the frontline battling the virus.

“Every governor in the United States has been banging on the door of the federal government with respect to the stockpile,” Baker said. “I know we certainly have and we’re going to continue to.”

Baker is also working to free up more space in Bay State hospitals. On Wednesday, he announced that all non-essential surgeries would be postponed until further notice.

“Putting together the bed compacity that is going to be necessary to deal with the increase in what we all believe will people who will need to be hospitalized with this,” Baker said.

Baker added that the Small Business Administration approved a request that will provide small businesses in the Commonwealth with disaster relief.

Despite how difficult it has been, Baker said he’s been practicing social distancing and staying away from his elderly father.

“I haven’t seen my father in a month,” Baker said. “I absolutely believe that it is in my best interest to give him space.”

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