Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker sharply criticized President Donald Trump on Tuesday, saying it is "incredibly irresponsible" for him to ignore the advice of public health officials following his recent positive coronavirus diagnosis.
"I'm glad to see the president and first lady seem to be recovering from their episode," the governor said. "I think it's fair to say that anybody wo's seen anyone or talked to anybody or who has any family who have dealt with COVID over the past seven or eight months wouldn't wish that on anybody. It has been and will continue to be an enormous challenge for all of us due to its contagious nature and the unpredictable way it affects people of all ages. For many it will be and has been a fight for life, some of whom will with that fight and some of whom will not."
"That said, I think it's incredibly irresponsible for the president or any public official to ignore the advice of so many of the folks in the public health, epidemiological and infectious disease community who have made it absolutely clear to us all, time and time again, that it is massively contagious and it will wreak havoc on so many people if they become affected," he added.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
"There are 200,000 people who died from this thing and many others who didn't die. It is a brutal, vicious disease for those it negatively impacts, and it it horribly contagious to begin with. Those are the facts."
Trump has been criticized in recent days for taking a drive around Walter Reed Medical Center in a motorcade Sunday while still contagious and for entering the White House without a mask on Monday night and stating that despite his illness, the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.
"I'm glad to see they're back home at the White House and seem to be recovering," Baker said of Donald and Melania Trump. "And I certainly hope the federal government of the United States of America is able to function throughout this difficult period."
The governor spoke Tuesday afternoon from Salem, where he announced a new round of grant money as part of the Shared Streets and Spaces grant program, which helps to create space for socially distanced commerce, dining and walking.
He also spoke briefly about what Halloween could look like in Massachusetts this year in the middle of a pandemic.
Baker said he has no plans to ban trick or treating statewide, and will instead leave it up to individual communities to decide what is best for them. But he did advise people to avoid indoor Halloween parties of any kind.
"The indoor Halloween parties are a really bad idea," he said. "Outdoor is better than indoor, and indoor Halloween parties are simply the wrong way to safely celebrate this particular holiday."
For those communities that do go ahead with trick or treating, Baker urged people to go out in small groups -- one family only, if possible -- and to wear masks.
"Not just a mask of Superman or Wonder Woman -- like a real mask," he said.
He also recommended that those giving out candy should lay wrapped candy or candy bags out on cookie sheets, and anyone handing out candy should wear a mask and gloves.
Massachusetts reported eight coronavirus deaths and 454 new cases Tuesday, pushing the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 9,323 and its confirmed caseload to more than 133,000. But Baker said he's not overly concerned about the recent increase in cases, noting that the seven-day weighted average of positive tests of 1.1% is only slightly higher than the 0.8% it had been in previous weeks.
"People started talking in the spring about the fact that it was likely we would see an increase in cases in the fall," he said. "I think we expected and anticipated there would be an increase in the fall."
Baker said most of the increase -- over 4,000 new cases in the past week alone -- is due to the dramatic increase in the number of tests the state is performing compared to where it was several months ago.