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Baker says state is in a better position now to deal with coronavirus spike

Gov. Baker. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/FILE)
Gov. Baker. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/FILE)Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Governor Charlie Baker said Wednesday that the state is in a better position now than it was in the spring to deal with rising coronavirus cases.

“Well, the biggest thing that’s different is we know a lot more about where cases are coming from, and we have way more testing capacity, tracing capacity, and knowledge and understanding about the virus than we had then," Baker said. "We also have rules for basically every employer that’s open -- which we didn’t have -- about how to operate safely.”

“We’re playing a really different game at this point than we were playing then,” he said.

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Baker, who has pointed out that a large part of the recent spike in cases has come among younger people, said, “It’s important for us to continue to message, especially to young people, the importance of taking this seriously -- wearing face coverings and recognizing and understanding that that’s not just about ‘You might get it,’ it’s also about ‘You might give it.’”

Baker’s comments came as the state, which appeared to have controlled the virus over the summer, has seen a gradual increase in cases, with a worrisome spike in recent days.

Connecticut and New York officials, eyeing the state’s status, have discouraged travel to and from Massachusetts.

With a slight chuckle, Baker said at the news conference that his team had told officials from those states their move “was a bad idea." Baker spoke at the end of a briefing to announce the nomination of Justice Kimberly S. Budd as chief justice of the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court.

Baker, a moderate Republican, was asked if he’d spoken with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, another Democrat.

Lamont’s office said Tuesday that the regional travel advisory “between Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York that directs incoming travelers from states with a significant community spread of COVID-19 to self-quarantine for a 14-day period was updated today. California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania have been added to the list of impacted locations that meet the metrics to qualify.”

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Baker, his face stretching into a grin, said Thursday of his counterparts in New York and Connecticut, “we talked to them yesterday. ... We said we thought it was a bad idea, and they said, ‘Thank you very much for your opinion.’”

In a more serious vein, Baker said of the travel protocols, “I’d just say that states are doing what they believe is the best thing they can and should do to keep their states safe. And we have travel advisories, other people have travel advisories, and my one message would be: I think people should do what they can to abide by those.”

He also noted that most state travel advisories “especially that involve contiguous states, don’t involve work, don’t involve family, don’t involve what I would describe as sort of the constant back and forth that goes on. Those are all exemptions across state lines. But I think from our point of view, these are an important part of how states manage travel into their states, and we do as well.”

Here’s what Cuomo said about the matter Tuesday in a statement.

“We know COVID is spreading at increased rates in other states and New York State is not in a hermetically sealed bubble," Cuomo said. "The numbers are a reminder that COVID is still here and continues to spread in communities across the state, particularly when people choose not to follow the safety protocols in place to control the virus. We continue to see outbreaks linked to mass gatherings at houses of worship, at weddings and funerals, and other events where the virus can quickly spread.“

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Now, Cuomo continued, 45 states and territories "meet the requirements for our travel advisory. We cannot let our guard down and risk going backwards in New York. It’s going to take the work of all of us to remain vigilant. Stay NY Smart - wear a mask, socially distance and follow the public health guidance. It’s there to save lives.”



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Martin finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com.