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Boston Faces COVID Crossroads, Walsh Says as New Mass. Pandemic Rules Loom

"The reality of the situation is, if we don't get our numbers down … then we might have to take further action," Mayor Marty Walsh said

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Boston, having seen its first decrease in the positive coronavirus testing rate in a month, faces a crossroads, Mayor Marty Walsh said Thursday.

The city's positive test rate dipped to 7.2% last week after growing steadily for five or six weeks, when the city began being considered at high risk of coronavirus transmission under Massachusetts' guidelines.

Now, Walsh is hopeful Gov. Charlie Baker's new round of pandemic-related orders and restrictions, which go into effect at midnight, will help those metrics continue to trend in the right direction. But if not, he said at a news conference at City Hall that he may have to add new shutdown measures in Boston.

"The reality of the situation is, if we don't get our numbers down … then we might have to take further action," Walsh said, adding, "Everything's on the table at that point."

Walsh said that his aim is not to have to repeat the coronavirus shutdowns of March and April.

As of Wednesday, Boston had 2,327 active coronavirus cases and reported 120 more cases since the previous day. A total of 874 people with COVID have died in Boston, three more than Tuesday.

Baker's new orders, which effectively aim to get people who aren't working home by 10 p.m., may help. Starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday, a stay-at-home advisory will be in effect for Massachusetts residents from 10 p.m. through 5 a.m., on-site restaurant service and entertainment venues will need to close at 9:30 p.m., and indoor gatherings will be capped at 10 people.

Walsh spoke positively of the measures at a news conference Wednesday, saying they "are there to help us stop the spread of the virus."

Mayor Marty Walsh urged residents to be patient and to let election workers do their job to count the votes.

When Baker announced the new orders on Monday, he said the number of new COVID-19 cases per day had grown by almost 300 percent since Labor Day, while the daily hospitalization number increased by 145 percent.

On Thursday, Walsh reiterated that the measures he and public health experts have been advocating throughout the pandemic will still help stop the spread of the virus.

"There's no need for panic, what there is need for is us to wear our masks, to physical distance, to do all the things that we have to do to keep ourselves healthy," he said. "If we don't do that, then we're going to be in a very different situation."

Walsh also noted that the city is in the early stages of setting up a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging tourists to return once its safe.

The news conference also came with the result of the presidential election still too close to call, and, asked about his thoughts on it, Walsh seemed to be in the same position as the rest of the country: watching and waiting.

"We all want to call it. Like, I want to call it today," Walsh said. "I want to see fireworks in Wilmington, Delaware."

State House News Service contributed to this report.

NBC/State House News Service
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