Coronavirus

Baker ‘Reviewing' CDC Mask Guidance, But Rules Out 1 Change for Mass.

He said he was "considering" a mask mandate in schools but ruled out immediately "instituting any travel restrictions," when asked about the COVID cluster in Provincetown that's now grown past 830 people

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Massachusetts has five counties where federal health officials are now recommending that fully vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public settings, but Gov. Charlie Baker is not ready to make an announcement changing mask regulations in the state.

Asked Wednesday about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's announcement on indoor mask use in places with high COVID transmission rates, Baker said he and his administration are reviewing the guidelines and will have more information later.

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Amid rising coronavirus cases, masks are making a comeback.

He said he was "considering" a mask mandate in schools — which the CDC recommended Tuesday and which scores of medical experts and professionals requested later that day — but ruled out immediately "instituting any travel restrictions," when asked about the COVID cluster in Provincetown that's now grown past 830 people, and which has prompted a mask mandate in the Cape Cod tourist destination.

Baker noted that the CDC makes recommendations for the country at large, while Massachusetts is in one of the best positions of any state in the nation.

Gov. Charlie Baker was asked if he's planning to bring back mask guidance in Massachusetts in light of new recommendations for fully vaccinated people from the CDC.

"The higher your vaccinated population is, the less likely you are to see significant increases in your hospitalization rates when you have increases in cases, and that's certainly true here in Massachusetts as well," Baker said.

He was speaking at Haskell Dam Pond in Gloucester, where he announced grant awards for dam and seawall repairs and highlighted infrastructure investments he wants to be included in the state's COVID recovery efforts.

Rates of COVID are rising in Massachusetts, though much more slowly than around the country, as the more transmissible delta variant takes hold.

In places with high transmission rates for COVID-19, fully vaccinated people are advised to wear masks indoors again.

In Massachusetts, Barnstable County is the only area of high transmission under the CDC's new COVID guidelines, while Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket and Suffolk counties are considered areas of substantial transmission.

The governor lives in Swampscott, in Essex County — asked Wednesday if he would change his behavior because of the delta variant, he gave a flat "no."

He also emphasized that experts disagree on what new regulations are necessary, if any, because of the variant.

"I like to listen to all of them and many of them in many cases have not just slightly different points of view, but contrary points of view," Baker said.

During an earnings call this morning, Pfizer announced a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine boosts protection against the Delta variant.

Revere's mayor said the city is seeing its highest number of cases since May — when more rules were in place. So it's reactivating its emergency response team to discuss what could come next.

"Those next steps include everything from updated protocols for events, potential vaccination requirements for city staff and potentially updating our mask mandate," Mayor Brian Arrigo said.

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