Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday defended his new measures aimed at stemming the rising number of new COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, which include earlier closing times for restaurants and some other businesses.
The alternative, he said, is an overwhelmed health care system.
"We have a 300% increase in daily positive case rate since Labor Day, a 150% increase in daily hospital COVID census since Labor Day, and a lot of concern in our health care and hospital community about what this trend will mean if it keeps running for another eight to 10 weeks," the Republican governor said.
He understands that the regulations are "disruptive'' to the restaurant industry, but added that it's better to take targeted measures now rather than suffer the consequences in several weeks.
The rules require restaurants to close by 9:30 p.m. and for people to be home by 10 p.m., with exceptions for work and other essential activities such as grocery shopping.
The new rules also give local governments more tools to end informal gatherings of more than 10 people, he said.
"It gives them for the first time a vehicle that they can use to just tell people that it's time to go home,'' he said.
He also reiterated the importance of wearing face coverings.
"If people would just wear these things religiously for 30 days, we could kill the virus,'' Baker said as he held up his own mask.
The average coronavirus positivity rate and the average number of new confirmed cases in Massachusetts are trending upward.
The 7-day rolling average of the positivity rate has risen over the past two weeks from 1.14% on Oct. 19 to 1.78% on Monday.
State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Massachusetts the Associated Press calculates the rate by dividing new cases by test specimens using data from The COVID Tracking Project.
The 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Massachusetts has risen over the past two weeks from more than 689 on Oct. 19 to more than 1,253 on Monday.
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On Tuesday, Massachusetts reported 12 newly confirmed coronavirus deaths and more than 920 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The new deaths pushed the state's confirmed COVID-19 death toll to more than 9,800 and its confirmed caseload to more than 157,300.
The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were more than 480 people reported hospitalized Tuesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and nearly 100 in intensive care units.
The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 6,436.