As coronavirus cases continue to surge and field hospitals reopen in Massachusetts, more are joining a chorus of calls on Gov. Charlie Baker to implement more stringent restrictions.
Baker seemed to hint on Monday that his administration will be acting on that front soon while acknowledging growing frustration with him and the situation more generally.
At a news conference where Baker announced increased coronavirus testing and new limits on elective procedures at Massachusetts hospitals, reporters asked Baker Monday about why he hasn't imposed more statewide restrictions and what options are on the table.
Baker was coy, hinting at another announcement, possibly soon: "I fully expected at some point we'll make some decisions with respect to that."
But he did note, "I talked to several mayors over the weekend who are frustrated with me, and frustrated generally [over] people engaging in risky activity that we have all been talking about as the sort of thing that you should seek to avoid."
Baker said the number of cases "took off like a rocket" about a week after people gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday despite public health officials' exhortations not to spend time indoors with people outside their bubbles.
One of the latest health professionals to question the governor's lack of action is Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University's School of Public Health.
Jha took to Twitter Saturday to voice his concerns over the ability to gamble and get a hair cut in Massachusetts despite having more cases per capita than Georgia, Florida or Texas.
Though he said he defended the governor against critics "for many months," Jha said he has gone from "uncomfortable to aghast at lack of action," in the past six weeks.
"It’s incomprehensible. They must see different data because no rational explanation for lack of action," Jha wrote on Twitter, referencing the Baker Administration.
Last week, Baker said that he's not planning any additional COVID-19 restrictions.
Baker cautioned Thursday that "one day doesn't make a trend," and said he will continue to closely monitor the data and make his decisions based on the available information. If any new restrictions were to be put into place, Baker said, the public would be given ample warning.
Meanwhile, the field hospital at Worcester's DCU Center opened for patients Sunday and plans are being made to establish another in Lowell.
Massachusetts reported 4,747 new COVID-19 cases in the state on Sunday, a decrease compared to Saturday's figures. The Department of Public Health also reported 48 more deaths.
Jha isn't the first in the medical community to speak out about the issue.
Dr. Phoebe Yager, who works in the pediatric intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, voiced concerns last week over the rise in cases and the risk of overwhelming the state's health care system.
“I really worry if more restrictions are not put in place that we could find ourselves in a very difficult situation,” Dr. Yager said. "Sometimes I wish they could see what we see in the hospital to really have it hit home."
State and local officials have also weighed in.
State Rep. Bill Driscoll (D-Milton) said the trend is clear and he is concerned the field hospital will fill up if action is not taken now. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is calling for, " deliberate, definitive action.”
The president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association came to Baker's defense, The Boston Herald reports, countering that the metrics don't support a rollback in the state's reopening guidelines.