BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration announced an expansion of COVID-19 testing sites for public safety personnel, new Crisis Standards of Care documentation for the Commonwealth’s health care facilities, and new guidance to further promote social distancing at grocery stores.
Testing Sites Expansion: The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that COVID-19 testing for Massachusetts public safety personnel will be available at a second location beginning tomorrow, doubling the number of free, drive-through tests available for first responders and other emergency management workers. A mobile testing site at the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield will begin operations tomorrow, and will supplement a site at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough that launched earlier this week. Each site will serve police officers, firefighters, EMS and PSAP personnel, correction officers, mortuary service providers, and state active duty National Guard personnel who perform critical public safety functions.
The mobile testing sites in Foxborough and West Springfield will each perform up to 200 tests per day, seven days per week, with appointments scheduled in advance by agencies and departments through a call center at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Testing is performed at no charge. The sites reflect a partnership among the Baker-Polito Administration, the Big E, Brewster Ambulance Service, the Department of Correction, the Department of Fire Services, the New England Patriots, the New England Revolution, Wellpath, and Quest Diagnostics.
Crisis Standards of Care: The Administration today released Crisis Standards of Care guidelines for the Commonwealth’s health care facilities. Upon the request of leaders in the health care system, the Department of Public Health (DPH) convened a Crisis Standards of Care Advisory Committee that included medical experts and ethicists from across the Commonwealth, representing both large academic medical centers and community hospitals. Their recommendations helped inform ethical, equitable and transparent guidelines for providing acute care during a crisis.
The guidelines, which are not mandatory, are designed to:
- Help health care institutions and providers make consistent decisions about the use and allocation of scarce medical resources;
- Ensure that critical resources are conserved and distributed efficiently, equitably and ethically across the health care system;
- Promote transparent decision-making and public trust in the fairness and equity of the system;
- Protect those who might otherwise face barriers to accessing care; and
- Assure patients and their families that they will receive fair access to care under the circumstances regardless of where they live in the Commonwealth.
Grocery Store Guidance: Yesterday, the Department of Public Health released further guidance to promote social distancing at grocery stores. The new guidance requires that each grocery store limit occupancy to 40% of its maximum permitted occupancy level (except stores with a maximum occupancy of less than 25 people). It also sets out procedures by which staff should monitor occupancy levels. The guidance builds on a previous March 23 order for grocery stores, which set out policies for ensuring access to handwashing facilities and protecting employees in higher-risk populations, among other requirements.