BOSTON (WPRI) — As Massachusetts ramps up testing for COVID-19, the number of cases continues to rise along with the number of related deaths.
On Thursday, the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 10 additional deaths, bringing the state’s total to 25 in the past week. The state also now has 2,417 total COVID-19 cases, up from 1,838 on Wednesday.
The new deaths include eight men and two women from Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Worcester Counties, the DPH said. They range in age from their 50s to their 90s and all had preexisting conditions.
In his daily coronavirus briefing, Gov. Charlie Baker said the state now has 21 labs conducting tests, which makes him say he expects the number of cases will continue to increase. More than 23,500 residents have been tested so far, according to the DPH.
“More tests means more people know for sure that they have COVID-19,” Baker said. “From there, those who test positive can work with their healthcare providers and others to take the steps that they and we need to take to limit the spread, and the people they interact with can do the same.”
In hopes of securing more federal assistance to deal with the pandemic, Baker announced Thursday he’s submitted a request for a major disaster declaration.
Baker said he requested aid from FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, which would provide financial support to cities and towns, state agencies and certain nonprofits, as well as FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, which would offer crisis counseling and unemployment assistance for individuals in need.
Baker also announced Thursday new efforts to ensure the care and safety of the Boston-area homeless population. He said the state-owned Newton Pavilion — a former Boston Medical Center hospital — will be temporarily reopened to support a range of medical needs, including COVID-19 treatment and recovery.
“Newton Pavilion will also serve as a post-discharge facility for patients who don’t have a home to return to,” he noted. “The whole facility has the capacity for about 250 beds.”
The Department of Public Health issued three emergency orders on Thursday to support the state’s healthcare system during the outbreak.
On Wednesday, Baker announced all public and private schools and non-emergency child care programs will remain closed through the month of April.
“These are uncertain times, for sure, unprecedented, but we’re confident that we can get through this together,” he said Thursday. “To all the parents juggling work and kids at home: thank you, thank you, thank you. We know how hard a few days at home with young children can be.”
Earlier in the week, the state launched a text-based notification system to keep residents informed. Text COVIDMA to 888-777 to subscribe.
To date, 110,000 residents have signed up for the service, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders.
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