|Governor Announces COVID-19 Relief Fund, Testing Facility for WMass|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff |
05:30PM / Monday, April 06, 2020
|Gov. Charlie Baker gives his daily update on the novel coronavirus pandemic and Lauren Baker and Joanna Jacobson, who announced the establishment of the relief fund. |
BOSTON — A COVID-19 testing facility is expected to be up and running in West Springfield by the end of the week for public safety workers.
The information was provided at Gov. Charlie Baker's daily update on Monday, which also included the announcement of a $13 million Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to support local foundations and community assets, especially front-line workers during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The governor had indicated on Sunday the possibility of a testing center Western Massachusetts while speaking at the opening of a drive-through testing center at Gillette Stadium for first-responders. Two drive-through testing sites were set up about two weeks ago in Waltham and Shrewsbury.
"We've now tested about 76,500 people in Massachusetts and 13,837 have tested positive," he said. "Tomorrow we'll announce a new site, in partnership with CVS, that will conduct up to 1,000 tests a day. ... There's another one that will be going up probably later this week at the Big E in West Springfield."
The sites will probably be by appointment and "work through a variety of communities such as first-responders and others in public safety," he said.
The governor has stressed the need for more testing and tracing of the contagion
even as it remains difficult for people to get a test unless they have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. The current number tested is only about 1.1 percent of the state's population.
He cautioned not to draw conclusions from the daily numbers coming out of the Department of Public Health by reading into one or two-day figures on the contagion's spread.
"I know people want to look for trends in this, especially positive trends given the anxiety that's created by the presence of the virus in the first place," he said. "But I think the best way to look at this is is over time ...
"I do believe if you follow the trend line right for Massachusetts, you can see it starting to bend a little in terms of
the cases but I don't ... I think we should all be very careful about drawing too many conclusions from small points of data."
Baker urged residents to continue following recommendations for social distancing, washing hands and regular sanitizing to slow the spread. Not enough is known about this coronavirus to conclude antibodies will be enough to prevent anyone from being infected again, he said.
"What I do know is we need, as I said in my remarks, we need to continue to take all the issues associated with distancing and social spread seriously, and I believe that people in Massachusetts are doing that based on, with small exceptions, with based on what we see," the governor said.
Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund is being established with seed funding of $1.8 million from One8 Foundation and founded by first lady Lauren Baker and foundation Trustee Joanna Jacobson. The fund will be administered at no cost by Eastern Bank.
"There are a lot of communities across Massachusetts where even in the best of times, people struggle. These are communities where families live paycheck to paycheck and they've been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 health crisis," said Lauren Baker. "We founded the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to help people in every corner of this commonwealth access the resources that they need."
The fund will partners with community foundations and nonprofits to "who have deep roots in their communities and boots on the ground to deploy these funds quickly and effectively," she said.
Donors have allowed the fund to launch with $13 million available for people in need. Donations can be made at MACovid19ReliefFund.org
"The people of Massachusetts, always step up. We're resilient. We're compassionate and strong. We have proven time and again that we will work together, support each other, and do whatever it takes to overcome any challenge," Baker said. "Well, the COVID-19 crisis is probably the biggest challenge any of us have faced."
Jacobson said the $13 million is only a small beginning that can make a great difference in the lives of Massachusetts residents hurt by the pandemic.
"It will not be the magic answer to everything. But if we do this well, if we do this together, we can have an impact," she said.