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Baker Says State Is Ramping Up Support For Hard-Hit Nursing Homes, Chelsea Residents

Massachusetts officials are pressing forward on efforts to help nursing homes and assisted living locations prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can be especially deadly for older people, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.

Of about 1,000 senior living locations in Massachusetts, he said, 140 have had at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. Almost half of the state's coronavirus cases have been residents or staff at long-term care facilities, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Public Health.

The state continues to conduct testing at sites across the state to curb the spread of the disease, the governor said.

The state is also ramping up its support for Chelsea which he said has been hit hard by the coronavirus, Baker said.

Massachusetts has increased testing fourfold in the Chelsea area and is helping provide meals to the community while also creating isolation areas at a hotel for those who test positive and can't stay with their families.

Baker said it is too early to talk about easing the state of emergency as Massachusetts experiences a surge in cases. Much more testing needs to be done to help officials better understand the scope of infection and aid in the state's contact tracing program, he said.

State officials are monitoring bed capacity at hospitals as the number of virus cases grows, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said Monday.

About half of all hospital beds are occupied - meaning about half are available, Sudders said.

As of Sunday night, there were about 36 patients being treated at a temporary medical center set up for COVID-19 patients at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Sudders said. A second field hospital set up at the DCU Center in Worcester was treating 10 patients.

Sudders cautioned that the expected surge in those who test positive for COVID-19 could put additional pressure on hospitals.

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