Good news: State hitting target for COVID-19 tests
Mass. also gets deliveries of protective equipment
THE BAKER ADMINISTRATION appeared to exceed its target goal for daily COVID-19 testing on Tuesday, reporting that 4,827 patients had been tested over the previous 24 hours.
The increase was well beyond the target of 3,500 tests, but it was accomplished mostly by an unusually large increase in tests conducted by Quest Diagnostics in Marlborough, which reported testing a total of 3,843 patients between Monday’s state report and Tuesday’s report.
Gov. Charlie Baker, at a midday press conference before the latest test results were announced, said the state was closing in on its daily target but hadn’t reached it yet. Officials at the Department of Public Health could not be reached for comment after the results were reported at 4 p.m.
Baker also had good news on the delivery of personal protection equipment for those treating patients with COVID-19. He said several deliveries had come in from the national stockpile of equipment, yielding 750,000 masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves that are being distributed to hospitals across the state. More equipment had also been donated by private groups
Massachusetts got off to a slow start on testing, first relying on the state lab run by the Department of Public Health and then eventually two national testing laboratories, Quest and LabCorp. An additional 10 testing labs started reporting results over the weekend.
Quest said on Tuesday that its 12 labs nationwide are currently doing 25,000 tests a day and expect to ramp up to 30,000 by the end of the week. Quest said it did 24,000 tests alone on Monday. The company said its average turnaround time is four to five days, but that can vary from a day or two to seven days.
“Although we are rapidly expanding testing capacity, demand for the testing is growing faster, and we cannot accommodate everyone who wants testing and meet tight turnaround time expectations,” the company said in a statement.
Quest said it is working with health care systems to prioritize testing for in-hospital patients and symptomatic hospital health care workers, in effect allowing them to go to the head of the testing line.
But some Boston hospitals, including Beth Israel Deaconess, Children’s Hospital, Partners HealthCare (which operates many hospitals, including Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s), and Tufts Medical Center, have begun doing their own testing. According to Tuesday data from the Department of Public Health, Beth Israel has tested 1,095 patients so far, followed by Partners at 742 and Tufts at 221.
David Raiser, the cofounder and CEO of Aldatu Biosciences in Watertown, said his company is providing one of the Boston hospitals with the ability to test patient samples for COVID-19. He said the hospital is now capable of doing tests in-house and getting results within a day. He said the hospital can do hundreds of tests each day, up to a maximum of 800 a day.
Raiser declined to name the Boston hospital because the client fears it will be inundated with patients once they learn the facility has a quick turnaround on test results.