Wednesday marked the 1-year anniversary of the day that Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Cases are declining and over 750,000 residents have now been fully vaccinated, so Baker was asked when he might be ready to lift the state of emergency, which gave the administration more flexibility to deal with the pandemic.
He said there are still two big question marks that prevent him from knowing exactly when the state of emergency can be lifted.
"One is how real and how significant are some of the variants that are currently working their way around the world associated with COVID generally?" Baker said. "What people do know about them is they're fare more transmittable than some of the previous variants associated with COVID. But whether or not that is enough to create another surge is sort of an open question at this point."
The second question, he said, is what's going to happen with the vaccine supply.
"We heard in December we would have more supply than we had demand by February. And then we heard in January that we'd have more supply than demand by March," Baker said. "And then we heard Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer and Moderna make commitments to Congress about where they were gonna be in March. Now we're basically being told between now and the end of March there will be no more supply."
Until he gets more clarity on those two issues, he said he won't be ready to lift the emergency order.
"I don't know exactly what's going to happen with the variants' transmission and vulnerable populations, and the second thing is I don't know how fast we can vaccinate," Baker said. "If we really did get more supply, we could do more than 1 million people a month — easy -- we could probably do 2 million a month."
"That would move the ball in a big way to get us to the point where I'd feel comfortable that we could start thinking about where we are with respect to the emergency order," he added. "But there's still some unknowns out there that we've got to get worked through."