For weeks now, the 7-day average of positive coronavirus tests in Massachusetts has remained at or beneath 1%. And hospitalizations are way down from the height of the pandemic.
"We're continuing to see excellent progress across the Commonwealth," Gov. Charlie Baker acknowledged during a press conference Wednesday.
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So why does the reopening of the state's economy remain paused?
For one, Baker said, the vast majority of the state's economy is already open. And many of the aspects of the next stages of the state's phased reopening plan, like bars, are far more likely to contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
"Unlike many states where reopening led to a dramatic increase in total cases and big increases in positive test rates and hospitalizations, here in Massachusetts that reopening happened," he said. "Almost half a million people came back to work at the same time we significantly reduced the positive test rate and the number of cases being discovered and dramatically ramped up testing."
The governor said he's "as frustrated as anybody" at the fact that there are still elements of the state's economy that have not reopened, "but anyone who watched what happened in the South with respect to bars and nightclubs, as much as those organizations are distressed and suffering under this current period of time, it was pretty clear they played a significant role in new outbreaks in places they were allowed to reopen."
"One of the things we didn't want to have to do, which several states have had to do, is go back," he added. "We haven't done that and I think that's because of the guidance and the advisories and the careful way the Reopening Advisory Group went about their work."
Right now, Baker said, he is just trying to get through the reopening of schools and the return of college students to Boston.
"These are both really big and really important," he said. "For the next couple of weeks our focus is going to be there. We'll talk about other stuff when we get past that."