Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Friday that the state is investigating at least eight potential COVID-19 clusters in the state due to people holding gatherings without wearing masks or social distancing.
They include a large lifeguard party in Falmouth, an unauthorized football camp in South Weymouth attended by kids from 17 communities, a Chelmsford graduation party, a 90-person prom party in Cohasset and house parties in Chatham and Wrentham. Baker said the state Department of Public Health is also investigating possible clusters at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and from a crowded Boston Harbor Cruise held last weekend.
"This is a recipe for disaster," the governor said. "We need to stop if we want to continue to reopen and get back to a new normal in everybody's lives."
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He said these lapses in judgment are contributing to "a slight but important rise" in coronavirus cases in Massachusetts. And though many of the events involved young people, he said some were organized and attended by adults.
"COVID does not follow any rules," Baker said. "We should not and cannot let our guard down until there's a treatment or a vaccine. Look no further than other states that have seen dramatic increases in new cases with uncontrolled outbreaks. We do not want to see that happen here."
Right now, state health guidelines allow for gatherings of up to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. But Baker said if he continues to see additional clusters, he might consider reducing the gathering size to a smaller number.
"The best way to deal with a cluster is to not have one in the first place," he said. "Honestly, it's really as simple as that."
Also on Friday, Baker announced the launch of #MaskUpMA, a new campaign to remind people to wear masks when they are out in public as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Baker's new travel order, announced last week, goes into effect Saturday. Anyone coming into Massachusetts through Logan Airport or by car, bus and train will have to prove that they're COVID-19 negative or hunker down.
The mandatory travel order stipulates that all visitors and residents returning to the state from high-risk areas must either quarantine for 14 days or produce negative COVID-19 test results upon return into the state. Violators may face a $500 fine per day.
States considered lower risk, and thus exempt from the travel order, include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont New Hampshire and Hawaii.
Other exemptions to the new travel rules include people passing through, people who commute across state lines for work or school and people coming to the state for medical treatment or military purposes.