FOXBORO (CBS/AP) – A drive-through coronavirus testing site for first responders opened Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker called it a critical tool that was built in four days by a variety of groups.
The site, located in the Foxboro stadium’s parking lot, will be designated specifically for police officers, firefighters and other first responders who may have been exposed or are showing virus symptoms.
“While the effects of this public health emergency are obviously keenly felt by all of us, some of the greatest challenges associated with meeting it head-on are being met by our men and women in public safety,” said Baker. “These professionals are working in high-risk environments to protect our communities, and we felt it was important to continue to expand our capacity to support them.”
Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito visited the location, which officials say will be able to test up to 200 people a day for free.
“When you think about our emergency responders, we think and we know of these people as our heroes. But they’re human,” said Polito. “In order for them to do their jobs, a couple of things are really important. First of all that they have the gear to get into their jobs and do their work for us. But this piece is also really important for them to know their status. A testing site like this allows police officers, firefighters, emergency first responders to get tested if they feel symptomatic.”
Polito said first responders being able to be tested is crucial. Part of the reason for that is so they know their own household is safe.
“One thing the governor and I have heard so much from these individuals is not so much about themselves, but about their family members at home,” said Polito. “They worry they’re going to put them in harm’s way, so this test is really important for that purpose.”
Baker said the site was built in four days by groups including the National Guard, Massachusetts State Police, Foxboro Fire Department and others.
“There’s a lot of people putting a lot of effort into making sure that we’re as prepared as we can be,” said Baker. “Our word on this one is, ‘Thank you and god bless.’”
While there, Baker provided an update on the state’s medical supplies. He said 10% of the 1,000 ventilators ordered from the federal stockpile have arrived. “We actually got a shipment last night which was unpacked this morning of ventilators from the national stockpile. There were 100 of them, we don’t believe this is the last shipment. We fully expect that we will get additional ventilators over the course of the next two weeks,” he said.
“Our anticipated assumption here is that some time around April 10, we expect we’re going to head into the peak of the surge and then some time around April 20 we should reach the sort of top of the apex and then start coming down on the other side but those numbers could be off by a few days,” Baker added.
Last week, the Patriots used the team plane to deliver more than a million N95 masks and other critical medical supplies to Massachusetts that the Baker administration had secured from China.
“While I’m standing here today in the shadow of Gillette Stadium, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to once again say thank you to the Kraft family and the Patriots organization and all of those who worked with us to get the shipment of one million masks in from China,” Baker said.
The state confirmed nearly 12,000 cases of the virus and more than 200 deaths since the pandemic started. The tally comes after officials Saturday reported more than 1,000 newly confirmed cases and 24 more deaths.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)