Mass. ‘still in surge’ phase of coronavirus pandemic, residents keep getting ‘very sick,’ Baker warns

BOSTON (WHDH) - Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday warned residents that Massachusetts is “still in the surge” phase of the coronavirus pandemic and that the disease is continuing to make people across the Commonwealth “very sick.”

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“We’re at the end of what I think everybody would say was a very difficult week in managing our way through the surge and yesterday marked one month since we issued our original emergency order to close all non-essential businesses. I know for a lot of people that it has felt a lot longer than that,” Baker said during a news conference at the State House. “I know everybody would like to see that it’s over but we are still in the surge and we need to recognize that this insidious and often invisible virus is still making people here in Massachusetts very sick.”

Baker urged Bay Staters to continue to stay home, practice social distancing, and wear a face mask in public to protect healthcare professionals on the frontlines who are working tirelessly to make sure those who fall ill recover from COVID-19.

“For everybody involved in this, we get that these are tough times,” Baker said. “While there are more tough times ahead, we have people here who know how to play the game and will stick with it all the way through until the end.”

In the last two days, 399 people have died from the coronavirus, bringing the state’s death toll to 2,360. On Thursday, Baker called that number “staggering” and “sobering.”

Baker added that the state continues to boost its testing capability each day, logging 14,000 tests on Thursday alone, more than doubling the previous single-day record.

“We’ve been testing in places where we’re expecting to find positive tests,” Baker said

Those places include nursing homes, hospitals, longterm care facilities, and other high-risk sites.

As the state keeps expanding its testing rate, residents should expect to see higher peaks in positive cases, Baker explained. At this time, about eight percent of the people who have tested positive for coronavirus have been hospitalized.

On numerous occasions, Baker has made it clear that Massachusetts needs to see a drastic drop in newly reported coronavirus cases and a significant increase in testing in order to reopen the economy.

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Baker also spoke about the state’s “mindboggling” unemployment numbers, announcing that about 400,000 claims have been approved since March 15. About 100,000 of those new claims have already been processed.

A team of 1,000 people has been working from home to assist the public in filling out their claims, according to Baker.

Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel also made a return to the State House briefing stage after a weekslong battle with coronavirus.

Bharel said she suffered through “about a week of really bad flu-like symptoms” followed by a week of “sheer exhaustion.”

As of right now, Baker’s stay-at-home advisory is slated to expire on May 4. He said earlier in the week that his administration is looking into whether or not that date needs to be pushed back.

All public and private schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

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