‘Respect the virus’: Baker urges caution ahead of holiday weekend

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) – Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday urged state residents to “respect the virus” this holiday weekend, when the weather will be nice enough for people to leave their homes and attempt to enjoy the sun while socially distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While speaking at a coronavirus testing site in Lawrence, Baker addressed preparations for a Memorial Day weekend that was expected to draw residents across the state to beaches and parks as health officials urge people to remain at least 6 feet apart and wear a face-covering whenever that isn’t possible.

“It is very important for us to respect the power of the contagion in this virus and to recognize and to understand that we have things we can do to prevent the spread,” Baker said. “The biggest thing we can do is to wear a face-covering if you can’t keep a safe distance from people.”

RELATED: Health officials announce 1,114 new coronavirus cases, 82 deaths bringing death toll to 6,148

He added, “Wear a face covering, not only for yourself but for the people you come in contact with. This is in many ways our greatest weapon the fight against COVID … People have worked very hard and given up a tremendous amount over the course of the last eight to ten weeks to bend the trend on this — and we succeeded … Don’t let a few nice days step on that.”

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera also urged residents to practice safe social distancing, saying residents will have to do is “check the obituaries” for evidence that the coronavirus is a deadly disease.

“People are dying,” he said. “We sent tons of kids to die in Vietnam. Eighteen Lawrence boys lost their lives in Vietnam. In this short period we’ve lost 109 souls. The governor’s right, we need to respect this virus.”

Baker also noted that of the 11,000 state residents who were tested for coronavirus on Thursday, only 9 percent tested positive, which reflects a continuation of a promising downward trend.

He also urged Massachusetts residents who were planning to head out on Memorial Day weekend to remember the thousands who marched into battle to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“Think about those families,” Baker said. “Those who lost their lives fighting for your freedom to put on that mask and just do it for them. Be socially distant for them. Wash your hands for them. Because if they were here, they would be doing the same thing.”

(Copyright (c) 2020 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)