Even as the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine arrive in Massachusetts, the number of cases continues to skyrocket.
And with widespread vaccination still months away, health experts and doctors say it may not be long before a total shutdown of the state's economy becomes necessary.
Gov. Charlie Baker has said all along that he will let the public health data guide his decisions on whether to roll back reopening any further. On Sunday, a series of new restrictions went into effect, including a statewide rollback to Phase 3, Step 1 of the state's reopening plan. New restrictions on restaurants and outdoor gatherings were also included in the latest round of COVID-19 regulations.
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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said last week that he wouldn't rule out shutting down the city if the situation doesn't improve.
"People say 'Shut it all down,' and some say 'Don't shut it all down," he said. "If we feel we need to shut it down we will shut it down."
Hospital leaders and other medical experts told the Boston Globe that additional restrictions or a full shutdown could become a reality by the end of this month.
“I would be very shocked if there are not more significant rollbacks or closures of the state by Jan. 1,” Eric Dickson, chief executive of UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester, told the Globe.
“The real concern isthere might not be any options left except for a lockdown,” said Sam Scarpino, director of Northeastern University's Emergent Epidemics Lab.
"It's not rocket science. Just math," Dr. Jon Santiago, an emergency room physician and state lawmaker from Boston, said on Twitter. "And the longer one waits, the worse off EVERYONE will be."
Massachusetts reported its fifth straight day with over 4,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, with 4,677.
There have now been 11,098 confirmed deaths and 279,574 cases, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Another 251 deaths are considered probably linked to COVID-19 at this time.
There were more than 1,700 people reported hospitalized Sunday because of confirmed cases of the disease, with more than 340 in intensive care units and nearly 180 intubated.