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Charlie Baker is just not going to be rushed into announcing a re-opening date

COVID-19 Update: April 24, 2020

Gov. Baker said today - again - that he does not want to even talk about how to re-open shut parts of the state's economy until after we see some consistent data that we are past the current Covid-19 surge, like declining Covid-19 hospitalization rates for a couple of weeks.

At the same time, though, Baker once again declined to say just what happens on May 5, the day after his current state of emergency, which shut "non-essential" businesses, runs out.

The best thing you can do is let the facts, as they become available, drive decisions," he said at his daily press briefing. "I get the fact that people want an answer, but any answer I give you today wouldn't be worth much."

Baker said he gets that people want a date, and that representatives of various closed sectors of the economy keep giving him proposals for how their companies could safely re-open, but he said he is too busy overseeing efforts to drive the infection rate down right now, and that only when the virus appears to be easing up will he begin looking at that.

Until data shows we're past surge, "we're not going to be interested in re-opening anything," he said.

He said that flattening the curve has worked - things never got as bad in Massachusetts as once predicted - but that that means the surge could last longer than expected as well.

Today's press conference marked Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel's first public appearance since she herself tested positive for Covid-19 exactly four weeks ago.

Bharel said she was feeling a bit achy that day, but thought it was just overwork - under her husband called and said their daughter was running a fever. She said she and her family all came down with the virus. She said she developed a fever and she felt ill for a few days, after which came intense exhaustion. But she said she did not need hospitalization and was cleared by her local Board of Health to return to work.

Baker expressed joy that Bharel is OK and said her diagnosis was a real "wake-up call" for top state officials, because Bharel was "a committed social distancer" and still came down with the virus.

Baker said the state's new system to provide unemployment to gig workers, the self-employed and contractors - the first one up and running in the country - has already signed up 100,000 people for payments in its first week, a number he called "mind boggling." He added that the state's traditional unemployment system has received 650,000 new claims since March 15 and that some 400,000 people are now getting payments through it - four times the number of people on unemployment in February. He added that, unlike in other states, the Massachusetts system has not collapsed under the load.

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Comments

It's good to see she has recovered.

This morning she was interviewed on WGBH. She was asked twice about the resident's remarks regarding injecting disinfectants to combat covid19. And twice she refused to answer, other than to refer the listeners to mass.gov. This kind of answer is dangerous and only serves to reinforce the crazy beliefs of those that like to wear maga hats.

The resident continues to steamroll the press and the public health community. Bharel's refusal to state the facts is frightening.

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None of her contacts at BEH or in the Governor's office, got sick. Sounds like one of the classic "family clusters" that all countries have seen with COVID-19.

As for this:

Bharel said she was feeling a bit achy that day, but thought it was just overwork

I don't think she realized what kind of boiled over hell she looked like. I've seen her in person, including during clutch times, and took one look at her that day and thought "oh ... shit". Good to know that her professional social distancing efforts worked, even if it is nearly impossible to isolate this virus at home.

Good to have her back on line, though. She will be needed for the reboot.

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Why set arbitrary dates that in all likelihood will change?

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I don't know that he can extend emergency executive orders to indeterminate dates, so at some point between now and May 4th, he will have to pick a date and extend the orders.

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If you have to park illegally at the Pond, maybe it's a hint it is too crowded?

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I do not know what you are referring to. I don't see anything in this article about a pond.

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Baker reiterated that "for the vast majority of people who contract this disease, it is not deadly. And the latest research shows that children and young people are at an especially low risk of health complications. But we must step up these mitigation efforts to avoid large numbers of people requiring medical care all at the same time." WGBH.org March 10, 2020--

The unprecedented lockdown was meant to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and patients being denied ventilators. Neither of those doomsday scenarios ever materialized so why is Baker moving the goalposts? The models were hopelessly exaggerated. Significant portions of hospitals are now empty and many are laying-off skilled medical professionals. They haven't been transferred or reassigned to the ICUs because there is no need. We know that nobody was ever denied a ventilator. In fact, ventilators are so abundant that we're able to export them to help other countries. It was also reassuring to see Commissioner Bharel recover nicely after taking some sick leave. As we've seen with the likes of Chris Cuomo, Tom Hanks and Commissioner Bharel, the novel virus is the equivalent of a seasonal flu, then back to work, for most. Time to end the catastrophic gloom and focus on protecting the elderly and unwell. As Governor Cuomo (D-NY) said early on, "the facts don't justify the fear."

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we're not going to do it all at once.

I wonder if one of the first actions will be to roll back some restrictions on elective surgeries. It will help inject some cash into the hospitals, and people recovering from orthopedic surgeries have to sit around at home anyway. Even if they limit the surgeries to those without co-morbidities, it seems like a relatively low risk way to inject significant money into the economy.

But broad reopening? Hell no. We're nowhere near there yet.

See: Spanish flu, second wave.

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It is true that with this lockdown prevented the hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients. The reason significant portions of the hospitals are empty are because a lot of the staff are concentrating on patients with the virus. ER's and other places are still open because you're going to have non-viral emergencies (heart attacks, strokes, pains, etc.) come in and get treated, but at a much faster rate. It's the non-viral, non-emergency situations that have been refocused and rescheduled until later.

Also, the models were overly exaggerated, but over time, health experts discovered the virus was going to be far less deadly (50,000 versus 1 million plus if we did nothing) but still very serious due to its unpredictability and spread. Even though it seems to you like the seasonal flu, to the people you mentioned, the symptoms and effects were likely far worse than the flu. You'd have to experience it in order to compare to the common flu.

We will eventually drop all the fear porn and get on with our lives, but thanks to the unpredictability and spread of this disease, it must be a gradual process. As one poster said in a different post, "it's a marathon, not a sprint" and we're about to approach the foot of Heartbreak Hill. It's frustrating to hear a politician repeatedly say, "we're not out of the woods yet," but while one curve has nearly flattened out, we have to await another one to do the same before we can breathe a sigh of relief.

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There is no 'one size fits all' solution. We're still on a steep learning curve. Folks can knock Georgia, but with fifty states, each opening is an experiment.
Those crowded Florida beaches a few days ago? Trick photography. A news station in Florida took a picture from a vantage point. Place looked wall-to-wall. They had a chopper that took a bird's eye view of the same place at the same time. People were about 20-30 feet apart. It was interesting in how to use photography to push a narrative.

Early models were GIGO because of a lack of knowledge on the part of the world. As time went by, we developed a more accurate picture. Gov Cuomo at first wanted 40,000 respirators. As it turned out, they didn't use anywhere that amount and he has since donated 400 to Massachusetts.

An example of a curveball...recent reports of odd blood clotting and strokes in otherwise healthy people.
What we don't know about this disease may be greater than we think.

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It's almost like the disease is taking a life of its own. It's breathtaking and frightening all at once.

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"Being careful has worked, so let's stop being careful" - O-FISH-L

"We avoided the worst-case scenarios from the models by coming up with mitigation plans for the weaknesses identified by the models, therefore the models were hopelessly exaggerated" - O-FISH-L

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The unprecedented lockdown was meant to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and patients being denied ventilators. Neither of those doomsday scenarios ever materialized so why is Baker moving the goalposts?

"I didn't fly through the windshield when I got in that car crash, so why did I even need a seatbelt?"

The whole point of taking these measures was to prevent the worst possible scenario. The fact that the worst possible scenario didn't occur doesn't mean that they were the wrong measures! Or, to quote Trump's own expert:

If it looks like you're overreacting, you're probably doing the right thing.

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If we cap out at 60,000 deaths, that will be at the high end of a typical flu season burden (and we did still have flu deaths this year). And that result came with extreme mitigation measures in place, something we don't do with the seasonal flu. So no, this is not the equivalent of the seasonal flu.

"You said a bad thing would happen and we needed to do X to make it less bad. Now it's less bad than you said it would be, so X must not have worked to make it less bad."

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I assume you’re also in favor of police going to calls without body armor? After all, most cops respond to a call and then go back to the precinct without being shot.

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Maybe Baker is measuring by some other parameter, but a self-employed friend in NY applied for UI at least a week before the MA system was up and running. (Could have been longer than a week - a week before was just when my friend asked me if I had applied...at that point the MA UI site said self-employment wouldn't be open until April 30.)

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