coronavirus

Gov. Baker: ‘Tough Days Ahead' for Mass., But No Plans for Shelter-in-Place Order

As of Monday, the total number of cases in Massachusetts was 197

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Gov. Charlie Baker said there are "tough days ahead" for Massachusetts, but there are no plans to implement a shelter-in-place order.

The governor spoke at a press conference Tuesday amid a steady rise in novel coronavirus cases in Massachusetts.

"Without question we are likely to have some very tough days ahead of us, as we are still at the beginning of the battle against this virus," Baker said. "Faith and confidence. We'll get through this by pulling together, caring for one another."

Closures, cutbacks and cancellations continue to mount as the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads in the U.S. Major cities and small towns alike are practically shutting down, leaving businesses, restaurants and even beaches mostly empty. But despite unparalleled efforts to limit crowds and contact, the illness is still spreading quickly.

He also took the time to dispel rumors that he is considering a statewide shelter-in-place.

"I spoke about this before, but let me be clear -- we are not planning any shelter in place orders. In times of crisis, it's imperative that everyone get their news from legitimate places, and sometimes that's not from your friend's friend's friend's neighbor."

He also stressed that for 80% of the population, COVID-19 will feel like the flu and will not require hospitalization. But the reason there is so much concern is much more contagious than the regular flu.

NBC10 Boston's Shira Stoll drove into Boston at 8:30 AM Monday morning to test the commute.

"There will certainly be more cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, but we also know that if we take decisive steps now and everyone plays their part by following the best medical guidance, we can slow down the spread, and our healthcare system will be better positioned to care fo rthe people who really need it," Baker said.

The governor outlined three new efforts aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

He said the state's coronavirus command center is making a $5 million downpayment to boards of health across the state to help cities and towns respond to the emergency.

The American Red Cross and blood banks across the nation are putting out an urgent call for donors amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus spreads and events and businesses close, donations are dropping, dangerously in some areas.

Baker also said he signed two emergency orders aimed at onboarding more licensed healthcare professionals so hospitals can staff up faster. This will also allow out-of-state licensed physicians and retired physicians to practice here.

Finally, he said the state is formally requesting that the Small Business Association issue a declaration of economic injury for Massachusetts that will allow small businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak to apply for low-interest loans.

The total number of cases in the Bay State is currently at 197, public health officials said Monday. That's an increase of 33 from Sunday.

Tuesday's briefing came on the same day all public schools in Massachusetts began a statewide closure until at least April 7. Boston Public Schools will be closed until April 27.

Baker has said school staff should be planning alternative learning opportunities and urged parents to practice social distancing. That means no free-for-all playdates and more time at home with only immediate family.

The governor also imposed new regulations on bars and restaurants to slow the spread of the coronavirus beginning Tuesday. Restaurants can offer only takeout or delivery.

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