Gov. Baker: 26 million rapid tests secured for schools and childcare

DPH also issues advisory about when to get a COVID test

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker has announced the state will be receiving some 26 million rapid COVID tests over the next three months.

“The tests will be prioritized to support K-12 education and childcare,” said Baker. “We expect to receive rolling shipments from this contract beginning this week.”

The 26 million tests will be coming from iHealth Labs. The timing and size of the shipments will vary a bit, says Baker.

Baker said rapid tests are convenient and efficient and that’s why the state is securing the tests. The order is on top of 2.1 million rapid tests delivered before the holidays.

The state Department of Public Health also released an new advisory about when to get a test.

“This has been a subject of much debate over the course of the past few weeks” Baker said. The advisory is meant to create some “clarity” given the amount of testing going on, said Baker.

DPH is advising people to get a test under “2 key scenarios:”

-If they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

-Five days following a known close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

“The DPH advisory also makes clear that rapid tests, in most situations, are a very good alternative to a PCR test,” said Baker.

PCR tests are the ones being taken at drive through or walk-up COVID testing sites in the state and can take up to 24 hours or more for the results.

DPH is also giving advice to employers, schools and childcare providers.

“DPH doesn’t recommend that an employers, or schools, or childcare providers require a test to return from isolation after having COVID,” said Baker. “However, if they do require testing, DPH recommends that they do not require a PCR test.”

Baker also announced the call up of more National Guard troops to assist in healthcare settings.

In a statement, the Baker administration said, “This order expands the National Guard activation of 500 members announced on December 21 to support non-clinical functions in the Commonwealth’s hospitals. Prioritized uses for the newly activated 500 members will be to provide additional non-clinical staffing at community hospitals and high-volume emergency departments, public hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and dialysis centers. These guard personnel will be deployed beginning the week of January 17.”

Baker is set to testify before a state COVID oversight committee later on Tuesday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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