Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Friday a plan to dramatically increase testing for coronavirus statewide from 10,000 to 15,000 tests per day to an eventual target of 75,000 tests per day by the end of 2020.
Baker said his administration is submitting details of the new testing plan to federal health authorities this week.
“That plan, if implemented, would make us the largest per-capita testing entity in the world,” Baker said.
Baker made the announcement during a press briefing in the city of Lawrence, one of the state’s hardest hit communities in terms of infections and deaths from COVID-19.
Baker said the state’s Department of Public Health has expanded criteria for who can be tested.
“Now, anyone who is symptomatic or is identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case is eligible to be tested,” Baker said.
That criteria means many Lawrence residents will be able to get tested at a new facility in the city, Baker said.
Speaking before Baker, Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera announced a new executive order prohibiting major public gatherings in the city through December.
Rivera said the order is necessary despite increased ability to test for the virus.
“Testing is just one piece of the recipe” for public safety, Rivera said.
“You wouldn’t have a cake without the eggs. You need to do the mask, the distancing, the testing — that’s a nice cake,” Rivera said. But without all those measures, “You have a coronavirus cake. No one wants to eat that.”
Baker again urged residents to act responsibly over the Memorial Day weekend. That, Baker said, means staying home if possible; maintaining distance if outside; and wearing a face mask if outside, especially if distancing is not possible.
“It’s very important for us to respect the power of contagion of this virus,” Baker said.
“We have things we can do to prevent the spread — the biggest thing we can do is wear a face covering if you can’t keep distance from people. … Wear a face covering, not only for yourself but for the people you come in contact with.”
“There is a lot at stake here. Please be careful and respect the virus.”