REVERE, MASS. (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday said Massachusetts is not planning to roll back its phased reopening but he urged residents to be much more vigilant as new coronavirus cases continue to climb on a daily basis in many communities across the state.
“The primary driver behind most of the material and information that we’ve seen associated with the growth in positive rates here in the Commonwealth is driven by informal events and gatherings,” Baker said during a news conference at a new COVID-19 testing site at Suffolk Downs in Revere. “Those are the places and spaces where if people are asymptotic, they will give it to somebody else if neither of them are wearing a mask and they are engaged in close contact.”
On Monday night, the state sent emergency coronavirus alerts to phones in Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, Nantucket, New Bedford, Revere, Framingham, Winthrop, and Worcester to warn of persistently high COVID-19 risks there.
Baker said house parties, backyard parties, celebrations, and the “kinds of things that we used to do once upon a time” are driving the spread of the virus in those communities.
“The places and spaces where people are wearing masks, socially distancing, and following the rules and guidelines are not where the vast majority of our problems are,” Baker explained. “That’s part of the reason why we sent that message out…to literally create…a jolt.”
Baker noted that the spike in recent positive tests has been among people who are between the ages of 19-39.
More than 800 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Massachusetts on Monday, which is the highest number of reported cases since Memorial Day weekend. Another 821 were confirmed on Tuesday.
When asked about possibly imposing restrictions that were lifted over the summer to mitigate the spread, Baker said, “I think what we have to do is to continue to be as vigilant as we can be and to try to take some of the discipline and vigilance that we’ve seen in formal settings and bring it to informal settings, especially as we move inside.”
The Massachusetts State Police and local law enforcement have also stayed busy of late breaking up massive parties with little use of masks, including one person who was arrested for allegedly planning a gigantic bash that was expected to be attended by hundreds of young people in Revere, Mayor Brian Arrigo said.
“Through our vigilance and looking at social media…we alerted them [police] to an event that was potentially going to happen in the city of Revere,” Arrigo explained.
There have been an average of at least 30 new positive tests in Revere each day since Sunday.
“These single-day new case counts are the highest the city has seen since May 12,” Arrigo added.
In an effort to conduct more tests in high-risk communities, Baker announced that the free testing site at Suffolk Downs will be open to all members of the public.
“We have some work to do now that we are dealing with really large numbers,” Baker said.
Tests must be scheduled in advance and will be performed using a self-swabbing method in a drive-through format. Residents interested in scheduling a test must make an appointment online.
The state currently has over 250 testing sites available, including free testing sites in 18 communities through the Stop the Spread Initiative.
Data indicates that one in three Bay Staters have had a test since the beginning of the pandemic.
At last check, 63 communities were considered high-risk for the virus. That number is expected to rise when the state releases its weekly health report on Wednesday.
The daily statewide average positivity rate currently sits at 1.2 percent.
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