Contending that the federal government is "struggling to deliver" on commitments it made to states, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday that he has been "very aggressively" pushing the Biden administration to make more COVID-19 tests available to states.
Baker again urged Bay State residents to "be patient" amid widespread reports of long lines at testing sites and hard-to-find rapid tests in stores, praising Massachusetts as having "more testing infrastructure than just about anybody else."
"People need to understand that they're probably going to have to wait," Baker told reporters after taking a test ride on the under-construction Green Line Extension. "That is part of the reason why we went around the federal government — which I've been very aggressively communicating with about the importance of having more tests available and more testing infrastructure for a long time — why we went around them and went directly to the manufacturers."
The Baker administration previously purchased 2.1 million rapid tests directly from a California-based lab and distributed them to 102 communities with the highest percentages of families living in poverty.
On Wednesday, officials announced another program that will allow municipalities and other entities to buy tests from manufacturers at state-negotiated prices and a separate effort to provide schools with at-home rapid tests for employees.
"The federal government is struggling to deliver on a number of commitments that they've made to states already and I take a lot of pride in the fact that we do have one of the largest testing infrastructures in the country," Baker, a Republican, said.
Asked if the low supplies of COVID-19 tests that many residents face is a failing of the Biden administration, Baker stopped short of outright criticism, replying that he has been "very active and very aggressive with folks in D.C. for quite a while and on the record on that about how important rapid tests are to this process."
The governor added that the state would "continue to do what we can to make our testing infrastructure bigger, but we have some of the same issues with staffing — it's primarily a staff issue — that almost everybody else in today's economy has."
Baker was among a bipartisan group of governors on a call with President Joe Biden and White House officials Monday, but the governor's office declined to say whether Baker asked any questions of the president or his advisors.