Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday that Massachusetts is "still in the upward slope" of the coronavirus pandemic, but the state has not experienced the same steep acceleration seen in places like Wuhan, China, and New York City.
"We're cautiously optimistic that social distancing and our other orders are helping to flatten the curve," the governor said. "These remain our most effective weapons to combat this disease."
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But he said the state still expects to see a surge between April 10 and April 20, and the percentage of those testing positive reached a new high on Monday with 30 percent testing positive, followed closely by 28 percent on Tuesday.
"This is not a time to get complacent," Baker said. "So everyone needs to continue to hold up their end of the deal."
That means staying home, washing your hands, using hand sanitizer and wearing a mask or face covering when you leave the house.
"It's not just about protecting yourself," he said, but about protecting those who are older and may have health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus.
The governor also said a new mobile testing site for first responders will open Thursday at the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield, and outlined new statewide guidelines for social distancing at grocery stores.
And he announced that he is taking action to protect health care workers, maximizing protections to keep doctors, nurses and EMTs from being sued for providing care related to the coronavirus outbreak.
“The legislation would protect health care professionals like doctors, nurses and EMTs as well as health care facilities from liability and lawsuits when the care they provide is impacted by the COVID-19 emergency," he said. "It would also provide liability protection for the organizations that generously made their facilities available to use during the pandemic. This bill will make sure they are free to do their jobs the best they can in this unprecedented situation.”
Health officials said Wednesday's daily report on the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the state will include race and ethnicity for the first time.
Massachusetts health officials announced 96 new COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 356. Overall, there are more than 15,000 coronavirus cases in the state.
Baker announced Tuesday that the state plans to invest $800 million into local hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
Baker also said his administration is continuing to work with the state's 1,000 congregated care facilities, which house mostly seniors, to make sure they have access to adequate testing as well.
On Monday, the governor and First Lady Lauren Baker announced the formation of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to help assist those most impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The fund will help support front-line workers and other vulnerable communities, partnering with community foundations and nonprofits to deploy the funds quickly.