WESTFIELD – State Rep. John C. Velis, D-Westfield, is calling for a regional COVID-19 testing site.
Velis said there are nearly a dozen testing sites across the state, but none here.
“As of right now, there are 11 testing sites in Massachusetts, but none are in western Mass.,” Velis said. “An ideal testing site provides a location where tests can not only be administered, but results can be received more rapidly. This will cut down on unnecessary delays, lower our frontline health care workers’ reliance on personal protective equipment (PPE) which is currently in scarce supply, and ensure that more hospital beds are made available for those who tested positive.”
Velis March 25 circulated a letter among his colleagues in western Massachusetts to present to the Department of Public Health.
Residents showing mild symptoms are told to self-quarantine and monitor their symptoms, seeking medical attention if they become more severe. Tests results can take days and in the current system, many tests are administered at one location, and then sent to another location for results.
“The problem with this extended delay is that a frontline worker must be in full PPE for the duration of dealing with the person who’s tested. That means a test goes out Monday, could potentially not come back until Friday, and that whole time our health care workers could be going through PPE equipment and other protective measures for someone who tests negative. The testing site expedites the process,” Velis said.
Cases are increasing in the state as more tests become available. As of press time, Hampden county had 45 cases and 1 confirmed death. Hampshire county had 11 confirmed cases, Franklin County had 14 and Berkshire county had 71 confirmed cases and two deaths.
“With cases rising we clearly need a testing site,” Velis stated in a press release. “We need to be able to get people tested and if they’re positive, treat them accordingly. But if they’re negative, we need to assess what treatment they need, and then make sure beds and equipment are being used on confirmed COVID19 patients.”
On March 25 there were 679 new cases confirmed in Massachusetts — the highest spike yet – which can be attributed to increased access to testing.
“We need a testing site to have an honest and forthright understanding of how COVID19 is affecting western Mass.,” Velis said. “Additionally, we need this so we can help preserve our much-needed PPE supply for our health care workers on the front line.”
Massachusetts coronavirus updates are available through AlertsMA by texting COVIDMA to 888-777.