One month into his stay-at-home advisory and non-essential business closure, Gov. Charlie Baker said Massachusetts is still in the midst of a coronavirus surge that is expected to continue for some time.
"I know that everybody would love to see that it is over," he said Friday. "But here we are still in this surge, and we need to recognize that this insidious and awful virus is still making people in the state of Massachusetts very sick."
"For everybody involved, we get that these are tough times," the governor added. "But while we know there are tough times ahead, we have people here who know how to play the game and will stick with it all the way to the end."
Baker was also asked if he plans to extend the stay-at-home advisory and business closure, which is set to expire on May 4. But he said it's too soon to say because of the unpredictability of the virus. Before there can be any talk of reopening, he said there has to be a significant number of days where the number of hospitalizations or positive tests declines.
"I think hypothesizing on where this particular virus is going to be 5 days, 10 days or 20 days from now is just not smart policy," Baker said. "It's unpredictable and it's unprecedented. We're going to continue to follow the data. We'll have more to say when we get a little closer. I don't have a crystal ball, I can't predict."
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Friday also marked the return of Dr. Monica Bharel, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, who had been self-quarantined at home for much of the past month after being diagnosed with COVID-19 herself.
She thanked everyone for their well wishes and described her battle with the virus.
For her, the coronavirus first presented itself as muscle fatigue, and then muscle aches and fever. After two weeks, she said the fever had gone away, but was replaced by "an intense feeling of exhaustion." In the third week her strength slowly returned, allowing her to return to work last week after being cleared by her local board of health.
Massachusetts deaths in the coronavirus pandemic topped 2,300 on Thursday as the virus added to what Baker described as a “staggering” toll.
There were 178 new deaths, pushing the overall toll to 2,360, public health officials said. It was the second-highest death tally reported in a single day since the outbreak in Massachusetts began.
There were nearly 3,100 new virus cases reported Thursday — the highest recorded in a single day — bringing the number of confirmed cases to more than 46,000.
The state also reported Thursday that it has conducted by far the most number of tests in a single day, more than 14,600.
More than 1,000 people with the virus are in intensive care units across the state. The overall number of individuals currently hospitalized because of the virus fell from Wednesday to about 2,800.
The virus also continued to take a toll on long-term care facilities, which have accounted for more than half of all deaths — 1,316.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.