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Gov. Baker announces new COVID-19 command center, reminds public to stay vigilant


BOSTON (WPRI) — Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s news conference on Saturday morning provided an update on the concerns over the coronavirus.

Baker said more testing is able to get done in Massachusetts for the coronavirus. Under new testing rules, health care professionals won’t have to seek approval for testing at-risk individuals, including those who have had close contact with infected people or who have traveled to affected areas.

Baker began by stressing that there is no shortage of food or dry goods. He pointed out that there is no reason to buy more food than is needed and long-term stockpiling will only mean there will be less for others who may be in need at the moment. He said if shelves were bare one night, they were stocked by the next morning.

He also announced that the Commonwealth is setting up a COVID-19 Response Command Center led by Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders to push back on the disease and step up testing, lab capacity, and facilitate coordinated healthcare operations and all agencies. It will be located at the Department of Public Health.

“Our administration has been working for weeks to address the outbreak of COVID-19, and the new Response Command Center we are launching today is an important step in our planning and preparedness efforts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Led by Secretary Marylou Sudders, this team of experts will focus solely on pushing back against this disease and moving quickly to respond to the needs of our communities and residents.”

The Command Center has access to any state funds necessary, including $15 million that was recently set aside by the Legislature to combat coronavirus.

With the “Command Structure,” experts will be able to work on expanding lab capacity for testing, monitor supply chains, identify surge capacity in the Commonwealth’s health network, among other functions.

Gov. Baker reminded the public to stay vigilant and maintain social distancing and all the common sense practices that have been communicated. This includes checking in with your neighbors, friends, and family to ensure their well -being and help when possible.

Saturday’s announcement follows Governor Baker’s emergency order Friday prohibiting a gathering of over 250 people and that people could call 211 for real-time COVID-19 information and resources.

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