Testing levels in Massachusetts are still “far short” of what’s needed in order to avoid "further significant economic damage" until a vaccine is available, technology and life sciences experts said Monday.
The Massachusetts High Technology Council is pushing for expanded coronavirus testing capacity as long lines continue to form at sites throughout the state.
The Council presented its latest update on a strategy for the state to fully recover from the pandemic and begin to open businesses, which was developed by some of the top technology and life sciences leaders in the state and first released in April.
Presented by Executive Committee member Steve Pagliuca, recommendations focused on the ways a federal, state and local expansion of testing capacity can keep the coronavirus largely in check until a vaccine is widely available.
"Testing will be critically important to our ability to continue to move the economy forward and to mitigate the impact and size of the second COVID wave we are experiencing as we transition to a nationwide vaccination program," Pagliuca, the Bain Capital co-chair and Boston Celtics co-owner, said.
The update that Pagliuca presented Monday takes into account that the second surge of COVID-19 gripping Massachusetts and the rest of the country is different from the initial wave of cases that threatened hospital capacity in the spring.
"This is more cases, more rapidly, than what we had seen before," White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said last week. The High Tech Council cited a presentation Birx made last week in which she said testing would need to be increased tenfold to be able to test and monitor both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.
In Massachusetts, the number of molecular COVID-19 tests performed each day over the last few weeks has ranged roughly from about 85,000 to 105,000 tests each weekday and about 30,000 to 40,000 tests each weekend day, according to Department of Public Health data.
Massachusetts is rolling out a new rapid coronavirus testing program at eligible schools next month, as Gov. Charlie Baker's administration attempts to keep in-person learning available. The state is also looking into expanded testing and direct rapid tests at long-term care facilities.