Mass. Could Soon Be World's Largest Testing Per Capita Entity

LAWRENCE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Coronavirus testing sites are continuing to pop up across the Commonwealth, creating a network of more than 250 testing sites in Massachusetts so far.

According to Gov. Baker, that's just the start of the state's long-term COVID-19 testing capacity goals.

In order to support so-called "hot-spot" communities statewide, Baker said the state started by partnering with Community Health Centers to ramp up local testing. He said "an army of folks" are also tracing the close contacts of infected people, and the state has significantly increased its number of daily coronavirus tests conducted statewide.

That includes the ten drive-thru testing sites that opened at CVS locations on May 15, and a dozen more CVS testing sites that were set to open on Friday, May 22.

"Since March, our testing capabilities have scaled up dramatically," said Baker. "Two months ago we were conducting a few hundred tests per day... Today we're consistently at or around 10,000 tests per day or above that, and we have the capacity to test up to 30,000 people per day."

By the end of the year, Baker said the state has a goal to more than double that daily testing capacity, which would make Massachusetts "the largest testing per capita entity in the world."

"[We're] asking the Federal Government to help us continue to expand our testing capabilities statewide," said Baker. "In the coming days, we'll submit a plan to the Federal Government which will lay out or medium and long-term testing strategy. The plan will include assistance to boost overall capacity from 10,000 to 15,000 tests per day to 45,000 tests per day by the end of July, to 75,000 tests per day by the end of December."

The Department of Public Health is also expanding the criteria for who can be tested. According to Baker, "now anyone who is symptomatic or is identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case is eligible to be tested."

The state's plan to increase testing over the year will include expanding lab space, expanding testing for high-risk settings like group homes and correctional facilities, randomized testing, and faster turn-around time for tests.

Baker said the plan will be made publicly available when it is filed next week.

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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