COVID-19 Massachusetts State House Update 3-22-20

March 22, 2020

  • Massachusetts reported its 2nd COVID-19 related death yesterday.
  • Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh had “very productive” conversations Saturday with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers around identifying, retrofitting and using college dorms, closed nursing homes and other facilities as extra medical treatment capacity as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
  • The governor said Saturday afternoon that the state’s Coronavirus Command Center, helmed by EOHHS Secretary Marylou Sudders, has been talking to hospitals to “scenario plan” for an influx of COVID-19 patients, and will now work to pick some sites in Massachusetts that the Army Corps might be able to convert. It would be a few weeks before the Corps would have any such site ready, he said.
  • The governor said some colleges have already expressed a willingness to make dorms available for medical use. The biggest issues, he said, are ensuring that the sites have adequate electricity and water supplies for medical operations. Baker said the Army Corps on Saturday essentially gave the state a “cookbook” that it can use to select sites it wants the Corps to inspect physically.
  • The governor gave an update Saturday on the capacity for testing at the state’s public health lab and commercial labs that have been granted approval to conduct testing for the coronavirus.
  • Between Wednesday and Friday, the governor said, capacity at all labs increased roughly 65 percent, from just under 700 tests on Wednesday to 1,144 on Friday, Baker said. The number of tests actually conducted nearly doubled from 520 tests conducted Wednesday to 962 tests performed Friday, he said.
  • By the beginning of the coming week, Baker and Sudders have said, the state’s public health lab and commercial labs must get a to a point at which they can conduct a minimum of 3,500 tests each day.
  • New testing numbers released Saturday afternoon by the Department of Public Health showed that 5,277 COVID-19 tests have been performed in Massachusetts — 3,031 by the state public health lab and 2,246 by commercial and other labs.
  • For health care providers, grocery store employees and other essential workers, the governor said Saturday that the state has more than 300 locations ready to provide emergency child care beginning Monday, when all other early education centers and family child care providers must close under an executive order issued by the governor Wednesday.
  • More details on the sites will be provided via the state’s Department of Early Education and Care website Sunday morning, he said.
  • A notice posted on the DOC’s website said inmate visits by family and friends have been suspended at the state’s 16 correctional facilities.

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