2 Months Into Reopening, Mass. Coronavirus Numbers Continue to Improve

"Our numbers have gotten better," Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday. "I think that's because we took a very cautious and careful approach."

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Two months into the reopening of the Massachusetts economy, the state's coronavirus numbers are continuing to improve, Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday, a stark contrast to what's going on in other parts of the country right now.

The first phase of the state's reopening began on May 18 with the manufacturing and construction industries and houses of worship. Subsequent phases have included the reopening of offices, restaurants and retail, and more recently, gyms, museums and casinos.

But even as the state has continued to open up, it has seen a decrease in cases rather than the increases being seen in other parts of the country, including Florida, Texas and California. As of Thursday, Baker said the positive test rate in Massachusetts is down about 95% and the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations down 85% since mid-April.

"We've got statewide guidance in place and industry specific protocols," Baker said during a press conference in Middleborough to announce efforts to reduce chronic flooding in the region. "We pursued a very phased in approach to this. Across all those measures that we track, our numbers have gotten better, which is a little different than what's going on in other places. I think that's because we took a very cautious and careful approach."

"We worked to develop very particular protocols across every industry that's been allowed to move forward since we got started," he said, "and we're going to continue to watch the public health metrics, pay attention to the data and only move forward if we continue to see positive developments on the stuff that's out there."

With a potential heat wave heading for New England this weekend and into next week, Gov. Charlie Baker urged Massachusetts residents to "stay vigilant" Thursday.

Baker said he has no issue with cities like Boston and Somerville that have chosen to reopen more slowly than the state guidelines call for. Boston entered Phase 3 on Monday, a week after the rest of the state. And Somerville announced Friday that it won't enter the latest phase until Aug. 3 at the earliest due to concerns over a possible spike in cases.

"If and when they do open, we fully expect them to comply with the statewide guidance and the industry specific protocols. That's kind of a must do," he said. "But if people have things they want to do that go beyond that or wait longer, that's part of the reason we have local government... That's not a problem, that's a good thing."

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone announced Friday that he has pushed back Phase 3 of Massachusetts' reopening plan until at least Aug. 3 due to rising new case averages.

Massachusetts reported 12 confirmed and probable COVID-19-related deaths Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 8,380 in the state.

There were 234 newly confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, reported Thursday — bringing the total number of confirmed and probable cases to nearly 112,600 in Massachusetts.

There were 557 people reported hospitalized Thursday because of COVID-19, while 77 were in intensive care units.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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