Massachusetts Among States Pursuing Rapid Antigen Tests to Detect Coronavirus

Massachusetts is part of a new agreement with other states to purchase rapid testing equipment

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Massachusetts is now one of seven states looking into rapid antigen testing in hopes of detecting COVID-19 outbreaks faster than ever before.

Experts say it could be instrumental in decision-making, especially as schools plan for reopening.

Massachusetts is part of a new interstate agreement that is pushing to purchase rapid testing equipment. The goal is to receive roughly 500,000 rapid tests per state. Results could be ready in as little as 15 minutes.

Gov. Charlie Baker said it could be critical in stopping the spread and briefly mentioned the technology earlier this week.

"One of the things we are working on developing is an ability to do rapid mobile testing for schools," Baker said during a press conference on Tuesday.

The state has yet to announce any details about the rollout of rapid testing, but NBC10 Boston spoke with Dr. Michael Misialek, the associate chair of pathology at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, about how it works. Health care workers would test samples in a small device similar to strep or the flu.

"Knowing within a few minutes instead of waiting potentially days makes contact tracing much easier because you can isolate patients much quicker," Misialek said.

While rapid tests are approved by the FDA, there is a disclaimer that the test might not be as accurate for coronavirus. However, experts say the technology is quickly improving and worth exploring as schools prepare for reopening.

Courtney Hanna, a mother of two in Framingham, said it could help her decide when it is safe enough to enroll her son in preschool.

"It would be a game-changer," Hanna said. "I would feel much better if teachers could have a rapid test. That would be a big weight off of my shoulders."

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