Baker: 26 million rapid COVID tests coming to Massachusetts

Coronavirus

BOSTON (WPRI) — More rapid COVID-19 tests are coming to Massachusetts in the coming months, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday.

Baker said the state has secured 26 million antigen tests through iHealth that will arrive over the next three months. K-12 education and child care programs will be prioritized, according to the governor.

“We expect to receive rolling shipments from this contract beginning this week,” Baker noted, adding that the timing and size of shipments may vary based on international shipping and production variables.

These tests are on top of the 2.1 million rapid at-home tests that were distributed to more than 100 of the state’s hardest-hit communities, and the 200,000 at-home testing kits distributed to school districts for teachers and staff.

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Baker said the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) is advising people to get tested if they are experiencing symptoms or a confirmed close contact of someone who is infected.

“Rapid tests, in most situations, are a very good alternative to PCR tests,” Baker said. “Because of this, the DPH advises that a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test does not need to be confirmed with a PCR test.”

Baker said many testing sites are seeing a high volume of people seeking PCR tests because their employer, school or child care center is requiring a negative PCR test result to return from isolation.

The DPH does not recommend that requirement, but Baker said any establishments that do should accept either PCR or rapid test results.

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Baker also announced he’s activating an additional 500 National Guard members to provide additional support to the state’s health care system, such as non-clinical staffing at community hospitals and high-volume emergency departments, public hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and dialysis centers. The personnel will be deployed beginning next week.

Getting vaccinated and boosted remains the best protection against COVID-19, Baker noted. Massachusetts is administering 50,000 shots per day on average, he added.

More than 5.1 million Massachusetts residents are fully vaccinated as of Tuesday morning, according to Baker.

Bay State residents who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations can now create a digital vaccine card showing their status using a new tool called My Vax Records. The digital card includes information similar to that on the paper card given out at the time of vaccination.

Residents can access the new tool at MyVaxRecords.Mass.Gov.

The Baker administration isn’t requiring residents to create the digital card, nor is it mandating residents show proof of vaccination to enter any venue.

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