coronavirus

Baker Not Planning Any More COVID Restrictions, Warns of Clusters in Houses of Worship

He said a lot of misinformation has been going around about things getting shut down

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Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that Massachusetts is not planning any additional COVID-19 closures or restrictions, while also warning of a growing number of coronavirus clusters in houses of worship.

"At this time, the commonwealth is not planning any additional closures or restrictions," the governor said, noting that a lot of misinformation has been going around about things getting shut down.

"We'll continue to follow closely the public health data and continue to make decisions based on that," he added. "The public will be given clear notice before anything new goes into effect."

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Baker said the new case growth in the state has actually started to slow down over the past 10 days, and he was encouraged that travel was down and people appeared to be holding smaller gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday.

With the possibility of a vaccine on the horizon, he said "there are brighter days ahead." But he also urged residents to continue taking precautions to prevent cases from spiking again.

"We still need to do the things that so many people in Massachusetts have been doing and doing well for the past 10 months," the governor said. "I do believe if we continue to do those things we can fight off this insidious virus and get through the holidays."

Baker singled out houses of worship as one area that has led to some recent outbreaks.

There have been 85 deaths connected to COVID-19 in Fitchburg this year.

Since the spring, he said the state has identified 36 clusters involving houses of worship. Those clusters contributed to 316 COVID-19 cases and 150 close contacts. Forty-eight Massachusetts cities and towns had one or more cases associated with a cluster at a house of worship.

In the last month alone, there have been six clusters with 44 confirmed cases and 22 close contacts.

"We all know COVID is contagious," Baker said. "Data like this shows just how quickly it can spread."

With the state in the midst of the holiday season, the governor urged those attending services at houses of worship to wear a mask, socially distance and not to attend coffees or other gatherings before or after a service.

"Treat it the way you would treat it if it were any other formal activity consistent with the kinds of things you've been accustomed to in other settings over the past 10 months," he said.

With news that a vaccine developed by Cambridge-based Moderna is highly effective, some phase 4 business owners in Massachusetts say they feel cautiously optimistic about reopening.

The number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths increased by 25 on Monday. There were more than 1,160 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The new deaths pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 10,512 and its confirmed caseload since the start of the pandemic to more than 218,300.

The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.

The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities rose to 6,788.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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