Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday that the state continues to make progress in its fight against the coronavirus, but now is not the time to let up.
"We need to stay committed to the fight," he said, "or risk losing all the progress we have made."
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The key numbers the state has been tracking to see when it will be safe to start reopening the economy continued to trend in the right direction this week, the governor said.
The rate of positive tests on Thursday was 14%, and the number of patients hospitalized dropped to 3,436, down 126 from a week earlier. The state's intensive care bed capacity is also significantly above what is currently needed.
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The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care stands at about 850, down from more than 1,000 two weeks ago, while the total number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has also dipped from nearly 3,900 two weeks ago to more than 3,400 Thursday. Overall, about 5% of coronavirus cases are hospitalized.
Despite those encouraging signs, Massachusetts still recorded another 132 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday, bringing to 4,552 the total number of deaths recorded in the state since the pandemic’s start.
"We're making progress here, but I want to remind everybody that the virus spreads quickly and continues to impact thousands of people across the commonwealth," Baker said. "It's not going to happen all at once. We'll see progress and we'll continue to see progress as long as everybody continues to do their part."
He said he knows everyone is anxious to reopen the economy, and that will happen soon. But he said it won't be instantaneous, and will probably be done in a phased-in way.
"There's no way we can just flip a switch," Baker said. "Doing so would mean an increase in cases and fatalities."
On Thursday, Baker announced that limited use of golf courses will be allowed as the state looks ahead to a gradual reopening of the economy starting May 18.
He said private owners of golf courses can now permit individuals access to the property as long as there are no gatherings of any kind and appropriate social distancing of 6 feet between individuals is strictly followed.
Baker said he took a a model that was being used in other nearby states that addressed his concerns and then applied that to Massachusetts.
The decision also allows cities and towns to open municipal courses under the same guidelines if they choose.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.