Gov. Charlie Baker

Gov. Baker: White House ‘Has to Lead' to Expand Nation's Testing Capacity

"This is an issue where the federal government, I feel, has to lead," Baker said.

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday urged the Trump administration to lead efforts to expand the nation's capacity to test for the new coronavirus, saying the move was "hugely important" to reopening the economy.

"I think the country needs to dramatically expand its testing capability and this is an issue where the federal government, I feel, has to lead," Baker told NBC10 Boston in an interview.

In an interview with NBC10 Boston on Monday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker called on the White House to lead the drive for more testing.

Baker said Massachusetts, one of the country's hot spots for the coronavirus, is among the top five states in the nation when it comes to the number of tests administered on a per capita basis.

President Donald Trump last week laid out a phased approach to reopening the economy that involves gradual loosening of restrictions after a state has seen a prolonged decline in the number of cases. However, Trump said governors would ultimately choose when and how to lift those restrictions.

Baker said Massachusetts would need to dramatically ramp up its testing as part of a strategy to reopen the economy.

"The whole goal here is to create a set of rules around how we can so-called 'reopen' and then make sure people abide by the rules, and then test like crazy and contact-trace people who have tested positive," Baker said.

Some people are running along the Boston Marathon route despite urgent calls from officials to stay away amid the coronavirus crisis.

Baker added the federal government could also help by providing additional funding for work on treatments to fight the virus.

"These are things the federal government has to drive," he said. "And I'm glad to see in the next round of funding... there's a significant amount of money there for the FDA and CDC do the work that needs to be done to both expand testing capability and treatment," he said.

Baker said last week he is looking for 14 days of steady declines in positive coronavirus tests before the state can open up again.

The city is allowing restaurants to sell groceries in order to give residents more options, provide a new revenue stream for restaurants and take some pressure off of grocery stores.

He has stressed that governors throughout the Northeast will need to coordinate on reopening and that the state's ambitious contact-tracing system will need to be working well, so that any flare-ups can be quickly tracked down and contained.

"I think the plan people are working on is one that can work on a go-forward basis but we're going to have to be cautious and careful," Baker said. "We don't want to give the virus a chance to bloom again."

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