BOSTON (CBS) – Gov. Charlie Baker said that while Massachusetts aims to increase its coronavirus testing capabilities up to 75,000 per day by the end of the year, he added the state is not pursuing universal testing as an option at this time.
Baker said during his Thursday press briefing that the state is planning to boost its testing capacity to 45,000 per day by the end of July, which would be 16 million per year. The next goal is to be able to perform 75,000 tests, or 27 million per year, by the end of December.
CVS is opening 9 drive-thru testing sites in Massachusetts. The state is also expanding testing at community health centers in partnership with Quest Diagnostics.
According to the governor, the goal is to decrease the positive test rate over time to less than five percent.
“We’re not pursuing universal testing for every person, because our healthcare experts agree that testing does have its limitations, and should be more strategically applied,” said Baker, adding “There’s no path currently to achieving what many refer to as ‘universal testing’, which has its own limitations – and it’s frankly too far off to rely on for our reopening.”
Instead, Baker said it is important to focus tests on people who are most at risk.
“The most important thing we need to do with our testing strategy is to make sure we’re testing in the places where people have the biggest concerns,” said Baker. “People who are symptomatic, people who are close contacts, symptomatic people who work on a regular basis with people who have COVID-19 or suspected of having it, folks who work in congregate care settings and 24-hour settings. Those are the populations that I think we all agree are the ones that are most at risk, and that’s where our primary focus is going to be.”
Baker said the state also wants to have the ability to test workers found in regular contact with coronavirus patients, and hopes to expand testing for residents and patients in settings like state hospitals, group homes, and correctional facilities.
With over 410,000 tests conducted to date, Massachusetts is currently a top five testing site per capita. Baker said extensive testing is critical to the state’s reopening process.