At his daily press briefing today, Gov. Baker said western Massachusetts and the Cape are showing good, declining Covid-19 hospitalization rates, but that numbers continue to go up in Worcester and the Fall River/New Bedford area and remain flat in the Boston area.
Baker said the overall decline in statewide hospitalization numbers is a good sign we're on the right track, but as he's been saying for a long time now, we need to see numbers continue to decline before the state can fully re-open for business. Massachusetts is currently third in the country in terms of both reported cases and deaths, behind only New York and New Jersey.
Both he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who is chairing his reopening advisory board said that even if numbers keep going down by May 18, don't expect to see every last business re-open that day.
"There won't be anyone firing a starting gun on May 18, and everybody's off to the races," Baker said. Instead, types of businesses will re-open in phases, as the state approves plans for how they will move forward to minimize the virus's risk to workers and customers. May 18 "is not a magical date," Polito said.
And even once businesses re-open, the state will have to continue to ramp up testing and contact tracing, to try to nip any outbreaks from a deadly virus for which there is no current vaccine. The threat of infection will be with us for "a very long time," Baker said.
Baker rejected the idea of accelerating re-opening in the parts of the state with better numbers. "Massachusetts is not a very big place, OK?" and a statewide policy makes sense. It's not like people from South Coast never go to the Cape, for example, he said.