BOSTON (WPRI) — Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that his administration is pumping $800 million into the state’s health care system to support those on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis.
The disease has claimed the lives of 356 residents to date, an increase of 96 since Monday, according to the Mass. Department of Public Health.
The DPH also reported an additional 1,365 cases on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 15,202. More than 81,000 residents have been tested for the virus so far.
With those numbers continuing to climb, Baker sought to make sure hospitals and other medical facilities can continue to operate and meet the increased demand. Of the $800 million, he said more than $400 million will be allocated to hospitals to address increased costs and lost revenue.
In addition, more than $80 million will go to nursing facilities around the state while more than $300 million will go to other health care providers including community health centers, personal care attendants and behavioral health programs.
“As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, our administration will keep doing whatever we can to support the health care workers who are keeping us all safe,” Baker said.
The funding is in addition to the $290 million in relief and $500 million in accelerated payments to providers announced last month, the governor noted.
Earlier on Tuesday, Baker announced CVS Health is opening a drive-through testing site in Lowell which will produce results within minutes and at no cost. The site, located in the parking lot of Showcase Cinemas on Reiss Avenue, has the capacity to test up to 1,000 people per day.
A referral from a doctor is not required to get tested but patients must pre-register online and schedule a time slot.
CVS Health opened a similar testing site on Monday outside Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I.
Baker also said the state has increased on-site testing at nursing facilities to avoid bringing their residents to hospitals and get the results quickly, so those who test positive can immediately be isolated.
Over the past week, trained members of the Massachusetts National Guard have conducted more than 1,350 tests at 80 of these facilities and planned to visit 20 more on Tuesday.
“There’s no population at greater risk than seniors, especially the ones who live in congregate care and long-term care facilities,” Baker said.
In addition, the state has launched a dedicated Nursing Home Resource Line to connect the families of residents with important information and resources. It will be staffed seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at (617) 660-5399.
For more information on COVID-19 in Massachusetts, visit Mass.gov, call 211 or text COVIDMA to 888-777 to receive text notifications.
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