Baker: Phased reopening won’t begin unless Mass. sees ‘sustained downward trends’ in key coronavirus stats

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday that a phased reopening of the economy will not begin May 18 unless Massachusetts continues to see a “sustained downward trend” in a number of key coronavirus statistics.

After swearing in 240 new Massachusetts State Police troopers at Gillette Stadium, Baker announced that new positive coronavirus cases across the Commonwealth continue to drop each day, while hospitalization rates have remained flat “for the past several days.”

Baker said his administration is “encouraged” with the trends associated with new positive cases and the rate of new hospitalizations, but stressed Massachusetts “is still very much in a fight with COVID-19.”

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“It is encouraging to see some positive progress. As we come through the other side of this and determine our next steps for a path forward, we need to see those numbers continue to drop,” Baker explained.

Baker also said that starting May 18, the state’s goal is to begin reopening “some types of businesses” in a limited fashion.

“This phased-in process can’t begin until we see sustained downward trends in many of the data elements that we talk about every day,” Baker said. “The data we’re looking for includes several factors, such as positive test rates, hospitalization rates, and fatalities.”

Another critical statistic that the state’s reopening advisory board is closely monitoring is the number of hospitals that are treating COVID-19 patients under “surge conditions,” according to Baker.

“What that means is several weeks ago, when we canceled elective surgeries, we worked with our healthcare providers to add more staff and more beds to the system to cope with the increase of COVID-19 patients,” Baker explained.

A “significant” number of hospitals are still “very much relying” on temporary spaces that were set up, in addition to the beds that were added to their facilities to treat patients, according to Baker.

“We need to have more and more patients recovering and moving out of hospital-level care so that hospitals can return to what we would describe as a more normal level of activity,” Baker said.

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The phased reopening that the state is planning for will not commence until progress in regards to surge capacity is seen, in addition to the other key data elements, Baker added.

“The virus is still very much challenging our healthcare system, and in many cases, impacting our communities,” Baker said.

Earlier this week, Baker said that the reopening advisory board is making “significant progress.”

As of right now, the state’s stay-at-home advisory and non-essential business closure order remain in effect through at least May 18.

An executive order requiring everyone over the age of 2 years old to wear a face-covering in public in Massachusetts went into effect Wednesday to help further slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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