Gov. Baker: Decision This Week on Whether to Extend Stay-at-Home, Business Closures

The governor also announced $130 million in new funding for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, which now account for 56% of the state's COVID-19 deaths

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday that an announcement will be made this week on whether he will extend the current stay-at-home advisory and non-essential business closure now scheduled to expire on May 4.

"We believe it's important for us to create some clarity around this with respect to May 4, and you'll hear from us later this week on that," he said. "The trend data remains reasonably high. We'll be putting something out later this week."

Gov. Charlie Baker stopped short of extending the non-essential business closure and stay-at-home order, but said we are far from done battling the coronavirus.

While the coronavirus surge continues, Baker said the number of cases in Massachusetts appears to have plateaued. He said the rate of positive tests announced Sunday was 17%, lower than it had been in recent days.

"We've flattened the curve," he said. "It seems to have plateaued depending on the part of Massachusetts. Our hope and expectation is it will start to fall. It will probably fall slowly the same way it increased."

The additional $130 million will be available to nursing homes in Massachusetts starting May 1, Gov. Charlie Baker announces in a COVID-19 update.

Baker's unwillingness to give a timeline is not sitting well with small business owners like P.J. Presti, who owns a barbershop in Middleborough.

"The uncertainty is certainly what I'd consider unsettling," said Presti, the owner of Middleborough Barbering Company.

Presti adds he just wants to know what the guidelines will be for reopening, and what he'll need in terms of masks, cleaning supplies and proper procedures so he can be ready to go when the time comes.

"I don't know if a forehead thermometer will be something we'll need," said Presti. "It's just stuff like that, I'd like to know what I'll need so I can do my best to make sure everybody is as safe as possible."

Baker urged residents to continue to stay at home, observe physical and social distancing practices and wear a mask when going outside.

"We will keep up the fight all the way to the end," he said. "We know there will be better days."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added six new symptoms -- including chills, muscle pain, headache,and a loss of taste or smell -- to the symptoms of the novel coronavirus. NBC10's Lucy Bustamante reports on why the new symptoms could get more people tested for COVID-19.

Massachusetts health officials reported 104 new COVID-19 deaths Monday, bringing the the total number of deaths in the state since the pandemic began to 3,003.

The state also reported 1,524 new cases, for a total of more than 56,000.

Nearly 1,700 of the deaths were in residents of long-term care facilities, and more than 98% of all the people who died had underlying health conditions, the department said.

While Gov. Charlie Baker remained noncommittal on Saturday about whether Massachusetts' stay-at-home order will be lifted May 4, he said he believes people will still need to wear masks and face-coverings in public once it is..

Baker announced $130 million in new funding Monday for nursing homes, assisted living facilities and rest homes, which account for 56% of the state's coronavirus deaths.

"Our nursing homes have been hit especially hard," he said. "Once COVID-19 gets into a facility, it spreads rapidly and in many cases can be undetected for days."

The funding, available May 1, will help pay for more staff, cleaning services, personal protective equipment and more.

New regulations are also being implemented for these facilities, which will be audited by the state to ensure they are meeting the requirements.

The case total and death count continued to climb higher Friday as Boston and Massachusetts hope to get past the peak.

On Sunday, the city of Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital announced a partnership to test 1,000 asymptomatic city residents to evaluate community exposure to COVID-19 through antibody testing.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nationally 25% of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and may not know they are a carrier of the virus, or that they could be infecting others, according to a statement.

“Data from this testing in Boston will provide vital clues into the spread of the virus and will help us develop strategies to slow down or stop this invisible foe,” hospital President Dr. Peter Slavin said.

Boston will begin testing people for coronavirus antibodies to find those who may have had the virus but didn't show any symptoms.

The city is randomly selecting participants in the hard hit neighborhoods of East Boston, Roslindale and Dorchester.

“The more we can expand our testing, the more we can learn how to use our medical resources more efficiently, and how we need to focus our current efforts to contain the virus,” Mayor Marty Walsh said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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