Gov. Charlie Baker will provide an update Friday on the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts.
He is expected to speak at 1:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, Baker detailed the steps that are being taken to reopen the Massachusetts economy during his daily press conference on Thursday.
He said the Reopening Advisory Board established this week “has hit the ground running” and begun meeting with various employers, business organizations and municipalities to talk about the issues they are facing and how they see the reopening working for them.
Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker, in an update on COVID-19, says advisory board in talks about reopening.
“The goal here is to make sure as many voices as possible can be heard,” he said, including retailers, biotech, health care, and the tech industry, adding that the board is setting up feedback and listening sessions across the state.
“This work is obviously going to be critical to our ability to make sure that a smart, phased reopening can take place here in Massachusetts,” Baker said. “The team obviously has a lot of work to do in a very short period of time.”
The advisory board is charged with returning to Baker with a set of recommendations no later than May 18, the day the non-essential business closures are set to expire.
MGH wraps up testing about 1,000 asymptomatic Boston residents, who are participating in randomized testing for coronavirus antibodies. Results are expected next week.
About four weeks after officials announced a new statewide effort to trace the close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19, the governor said the tracing team has contacted about 5,000 individuals. He said about 1,000 people are now working as part of the contact tracing program, a collaboration with Partners in Health.
Baker said tracing is a key element of efforts to mitigate the spread of the highly contagious disease. When the effort was launched, he said, it was projected that each person who has COVID-19 would have about 10 close contacts. The average number of contacts has turned out to only be two, which he said means efforts to stay home and socially distance have been working.
He urged people to answer the phone if they receive a call from the tracing collaborative — they come from a number with an 833 or 857 area code, he said, and the caller ID will say “MA COVID Team” — and provide the relevant information.
Hull Fire Chief Chris Russo, suffering after the death of his father-in-law, shared his experience of watching a loved one get care for the coronavirus.
“We believe the tracing program is a key element toward not only stopping the spread but understanding where the virus is and how we contain it,” Baker said.
The governor announced Tuesday that he was extending the shutdown from May 4 until May 18 and established an advisory board to come up with recommendations on how a phased reopening can take place. The decision upset some in the business community who are struggling to survive due to coronavirus restrictions.
Massachusetts health officials reported 157 new COVID-19 deaths Thursday, bringing the the total number of deaths in the state since the pandemic began to 3,562. The state also reported 1,940 new cases, for a total of more than 62,000.
Gov. Charlie Baker is urging people to participate in contact tracing if they get a call from the state, which he stressed is a key component in mitigating the spread of coronavirus.
Ultimately, Baker has said the decision on when to reopen will be dictated by the public health and hospitalization data.
He said Thursday that the percentage of positive tests and the state’s hospital capacity has remained “pretty flat” for the past two weeks, but has yet to see a decline.
“We have, in fact, bent the curve. We did, in fact, reduce the spread,” Baker said. “We are now living with a plateau that I’m sure all of us would like to see dip a little bit so that we can move a little more quickly with respect to what a reopening strategy would look like.”