Baker: Reopening Mass. ‘won’t be instantaneous,’ more outbreaks likely until vaccine becomes available

BOSTON (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday urged residents to remain patient because reopening the economy “won’t be instantaneous” due to the possibility of seeing a spike in new coronavirus cases and deaths. He also explained that his administration must act carefully because additional outbreaks are “likely” until a vaccine becomes readily available.

“We’re making progress here, but I want to remind everybody that this virus spreads quickly and it continues to impact thousands of people across the Commonwealth based on our testing data,” Baker said during a news conference at the State House.

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The number of new positive coronavirus cases has been trending down, aside from a spike on Wednesday, but the state is still looking to see a sustained two-week drop in hospitalization rates, fatalities, and intensive care unit capacity in order for a phased reopening to begin on May 18.

“Overall, this week showed encouraging trends in the fight against the virus. We know everyone is anxious to move forward on bringing back the economy, and we all hope that we’ll be able to start some of those steps soon,” Baker said. “But at the same time, we did see individual days this week where the fluctuations and the data were less encouraging. That underscores the fact that the reopening process won’t be instantaneous.”

Baker warned that if the reopening process is not planned appropriately, Massachusetts will run the risk of seeing a “huge spike in infections and more fatalities.”

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Once there is a continuous drop in the key coronavirus statistics, the state will move forward with a phased reopening, Baker said.

When a sense of normalcy does start to return, Baker said residents should prepare themselves for “bumps along the way.”

“We’re likely going to be dealing with outbreaks until things like a vaccine and treatments catch up,” Baker said.

When asked why Massachusetts was lagging behind the rest of New England with respect to reopening, Baker simply said, “We’re not all in the same place.”

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Baker added that the numbers in Massachusetts look a lot different than surrounding states, in some cases “for the worst.”

Golf courses were permitted to open Thursday, but other non-essential businesses will remain closed through at least May 18, which is the same day the statewide stay-at-home advisory is slated to expire.

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