Governor Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that he would be extending the stay-at-home advisory and non-essential business closure order until May 18 amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Baker also spoke about the timeline on the phased reopening of Massachusetts. Here’s a quick look at some key things he said during his daily news conference.
- On extending restrictive measures from May 4 to May 18: “I know pushing these dates back a couple if weeks is not what people want to hear, and believe me, I’m just as frustrated as anybody else ... . And we all look forward to stepping in front of this podium to tell you we’re starting to open for business. I know we’ll get there soon, but we have to be smart about how we do it, and recognize and understand that there are risks associated with going back too soon.”
- On the formation of a reopening advisory board: “This reopening advisory board is a step in the right direction ... when the data shows us we’re getting ahead of this terrible virus, we can take swift, smart, and appropriate action.”
Baker also said the reopening advisory board would “discuss both the larger issues associated with the regulatory framework, [and] also the operating principles and the policies around how to regulate and enforce and oversee ... so that when we get to the 18th, there will be guidance we can make available to people.”
- On COVID-19 hospitalization rates: “The data shows us that our hospitalizations rates, while no longer climbing at the rates they were climbing before, have plateaued and not started to fall. This is critically important to the decision making not just here in Massachusetts, but to the guidance that’s been recommended in virtually every other state in the country ... The steps we’re taking now, and what we’re able to begin planning with respect to reopening and how we carry out that process for Massachusetts, is critically important, and we think it should begin now. We’re moving in the right direction with respect to the virus, but we’re not where we need to be ... letting up too early is not the right way to finish this fight.”
- On deciding on the May 18 date, and if businesses can realistically expect to reopen then: “From our point of view, the goal here was to take a look at the the fact that we have plateaued, but we’ve stayed at a very high level of hospitalizations, which is a key measure, and to put enough distance from where we are now ... and where we can get to the point where we can start to do something on a phase basis. ... Remember, this is a phased opening. Phased. It’s not going to be everybody all at once.”
- On if Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s comments had any impact on the extension: “No, but I talk to Mayor Walsh all the time about all kinds of things. The May 18 date has a lot more to do with ... when we thought we needed to get this work done, and to recognize and understand, that while we’ve gone up like this, we’ve been up like this for a while, and we have not seen a downward trend yet on a number of those key metrics.”
- When asked if parts of the state, such as Western Mass. or Cape Cod, could open sooner: “We’re a pretty small geography, and small enough that New Hampshire and Vermont and Rhode Island and Connecticut spend a lot of time talking to us, as we do with them, about issues and decisions around this sort of thing, because none of us is really very far away from the other, and I think you’re likely to see us try to act in as coordinated a policy as we possibly can. Under those kinds of terms, I don’t anticipate that we’ll choose to single one region out over another.”
- On the prediction models used to help guide decisions: “You need to accept and recognize and understand that they’re useful as a point of reference, but they certainly shouldn’t be deemed as gospel, because people are constantly changing their models. We’ve seen that happen ever since this began, and we’re dealing with a virus we’ve never seen before, so there isn’t a long history on this like there is on the flu. What I would say is everybody has said you need to see downward trends. Downward trends. We don’t have that on one of the key measures -- hospitalizations for COVID-19 and ICU use for COVID-19. Yes, it has flattened out, but we have not seen a downward trend there. And that’s a really important measure about what’s going on out there in the community generally.”
- On working remotely and transportation: “I think we have 18,000 people in the executive branch who have worked remotely, and it’s actually worked out pretty well. So we’re gong to have to have a conversation ourselves about that ... . Other countries have staggered work schedules in place. People have done things to change the nature of the way they managed those, and it has turned out to be pretty effective. One of the places where this will get very important is transportation. A number of places that have gone to staggered hours did that specifically to make it possible for their public transportation systems to be able to create distancing, which obviously in that space matters a lot.”
- On if childcare programs could get the go-ahead to reopen before June 29: “That’s one the advisory board is going to take under consideration. It’s going to depend a lot on the conversation with the daycare community generally, and what we get from the business community and how phased in the phased opening actually is.”
- On an MGH simulator suggesting fatalities would spike if restrictions lift suddenly: “I don’t think anybody’s talking about the kind of opening that was proposed in that simulator. That simulator was ‘minimum restrictions.’ That’s not the way this is going to work ... . I fully expect that whatever happens here will be built on a lot of the work that’s been done elsewhere. I will be shocked if anyone opens anything up with so-called ‘minimum restrictions.’”
- What will the end of May realistically look like in the state? “One of the reasons why we both said in our remarks we’d be making regular updates on the work of the advisory board is to give people some insight on that stuff. I want them to start talking before we start sharing stuff like that, once they actually start to develop some key themes.”
- On if the Boston Marathon will still be held in September: “I would say that’s a good example of something where we have to get a lot farther down the road. And I know you asked me about the Fourth of July — that’s a great example of something we would never make a decision on without talking to the city of Boston about.”
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss