Baker Announces Community Tracing Collaborative and Relief Fund

As the COVID-19 crisis continues and begins to approach the predicted surge in cases, Governor Charlie Baker continues to provide nearly daily updates to residents.

As of Monday, April 6, Massachusetts, had 13,837 cases of COVID-19. Governor Baker said that the state will continue to increase testing and that modeling indicates that hospitalizations could peak between April 10 and April 21. The state is also speaking with hospitals so it can prepare to meet their needs as more cases are expected in the coming weeks.

An N95 mask decontamination facility is also set up in the former K-Mart at Assembly Row in Somerville. Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said this is the fourth location in the United States where this technology will be used, and each N95 mask can be decontaminated between five and 10 times before it has to be disposed of, which will extend the life of these masks that are so vital for healthcare workers who are on the frontlines.

Baker announced on April 7 that a new rapid testing site will open in conjunction with CVS in Lowell in and will use the new Abbott ID NOW™ COVID-19 test. CVS has created rapid testing sites in only two other states, Georgia and Rhode Island, so Massachusetts will be the third state to use these rapid testing sites.

Additionally, the New England Patriots plane also brought in over 1 million masks last week from China “in a humanitarian mission,” Sudders said.

Governor Baker Covid-19 Community Tracing Collaborative

Governor Baker announced on April 3 the creation of the COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC) which will help mitigate the spread of the virus in the Commonwealth.

“This initiative is a collaboration between the administration and Partners In Health, and is the first of its kind in the nation, according to a release from the state. “The initiative will focus on tracing the contacts of confirmed positive COVID-19 patients, and supporting individuals in quarantine, and builds on the efforts already underway from the Command Center to leverage public health college students to augment the contact tracing being done by local boards of health.”

“Enhanced contact tracing capability is another powerful tool for public health officials and health care providers in the battle against COVID-19,” Baker said. “Massachusetts is the only state in the nation implementing this type of programming, and this collaborative tracing initiative will break new ground as we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19.” 

Partners In Health will be working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the contact tracing will be combined with increased testing efforts in the state.

Nearly 1,000 contact tracers will be reaching out to COVID-19 patients and those who they have been in contact with in an effort to contain the virus.

Massachusetts

Covid-19 Relief

Governor Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker on April 6 announced the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, which will support frontline workers and other communities who face issues like housing insecurity.

He said that the fund, which is administered by Eastern Bank, was launched with a $1.8 million anchor fund, and is now up to $13 million as a starting point.

First Lady Lauren Baker said that the fund will also “partner with a network of excellent community foundations and local nonprofits who have deep roots in their communities.”

She thanked the “generous donors” to the fund, and as the need will continue to raise throughout the Commonwealth, “the sky is the limit for how much money we can raise,” she said.

Governor Baker said that as of Monday, about 76,500 people have been tested in the Commonwealth. He also said Massachusetts received 100 additional ventilators from the federal government, and he has a commitment to increase that number over the next few days and weeks. 

“This public health crisis continues to be one of the most challenging events the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has ever faced,” Baker said.

“The goal here is simple,” he said, referring to the fund, “to help those who are going to have the hardest time working through and dealing with” this crisis.

To read more about the fund and to make a donation, visit masscovid19relieffund.org.

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