BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts relaxed rules on who can get tested for the coronavirus Saturday in an effort to slow the spread of the outbreak as more cases in the state were announced.
The state also announced a new command center to coordinate the response to the virus. State Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders will lead the center, which state officials said will focus on expanding testing, preventing health care equipment shortages and ensuring hospitals are ready for large numbers of patients.
“Far more people are going to get tested,” Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said Saturday morning at a news conference called to announce the changes.
The state has tested 475 people for the virus as of Friday. Before the change announced Saturday, health professionals had to seek state approval before administering a test for the virus.
The new rules will allow a physician to administer the test without approval if a patient meets certain requirements, such as international travel to affected regions or contact with someone who is showing symptoms of the virus.
The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Massachusetts rose to 138 when officials announced the latest numbers Saturday evening, an increase of 15 over the day before.
“We are preparing for more confirmed cases,” Baker said.