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‘They took off like a rocket’: Governor Baker laments spike in post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 infections

Governor Charlie Baker walked past a sign for a recently launched public awareness ad campaign at the end of the press conference on Monday.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Governor Baker on Monday expressed frustration over the rising number of coronavirus infections in Massachusetts in the wake of Thanksgiving, telling reporters at a news conference that it’s clear from the data that informal indoor gatherings are driving the spread of the disease in the state.

“Massachusetts is experiencing a rapid increase in new positive cases in the wake of Thanksgiving,” Baker said Monday as he announced hospitals would curb elective in-patient procedures to relieve stress on the state’s health care system.

Baker said there was a clear change between how the state was doing in battling the virus before Thanksgiving, and what happened after.


“After some of the new regulations we put in place in the early part of November went into effect, you could actually see our positive tests rates stop growing, day over day, for about 10 days. And then about five to seven days — which is the typical incubation period — after Thanksgiving, they took off like a rocket,” Baker said.

He said the spike happened despite many warnings from state officials and others to avoid gathering indoors with extended friends and family over the holiday weekend.

“Thanksgiving, the ultimate informal gathering among people who are informal with each other ... here and in many other places has been exactly the kind of event that people said it would be,” Baker said.

Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are increasing nationwide as the United States battles a major fall surge, stretching hospitals and even straining morgue capacity in some places.

“We now have a hospital community that’s really struggling,” he added, noting health care workers find it “frustrating and depressing” that people continue to informally gather without masks.

Asked whether he was considering new statewide restrictions in the wake of the increase, Baker said he would have more to say on the subject soon. Public health experts and mayors around the state have urged Baker to implement new statewide measures to stem the spread of the virus after Massachusetts’ positive test rate exceeded five percent, and more than 5,000 new daily cases were reported for three days in a row.


“No one wants to be lectured to, and I get that,” Baker said. “But there is a legit cause and effect thing going on here.”

Christina Prignano can be reached at Follow her @cprignano.