Massachusetts tightening coronavirus restrictions amid rise in cases

Massachusetts tightening coronavirus restrictions amid rise in cases
© Stefani Reynolds

Massachusetts will revert to the first step of phase three of its reopening plan as coronavirus cases spread in the state, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced Tuesday.

“Pretty much everything,” including gyms, stores, movie theaters and libraries, will be operating at reduced capacity, Baker said at a press briefing Tuesday.

The governor made his remarks a day after reporters questioned him about forthcoming restrictions as cases surge in the Bay State. "I fully expect at some point we'll make some decisions with respect to that," he said Monday, according to NECN, a Boston-area NBC affiliate.

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Massachusetts has seen its seven-day rolling average of new cases increase from just under 2,654 on Nov. 22 to more than 4,554 as of Sunday.

Local leaders have said more detailed guidance at the state level is necessary for them to address the increase.

“I don’t want to speak for the administration [but] we can’t make those kinds of decisions individually,” Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee (D) told the Boston Globe. “It can’t be one community here, one community there.”

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Public health experts have also questioned Baker’s strategy, including Ashish K. Jha, the dean of the Brown University's School of Public Health.

“Massachusetts has more new COVID cases per capita than Georgia, Florida, or Texas,” Jha tweeted Saturday. “Our wastewater data shows more infections in the community than we had in April. Our hospitalizations, deaths are up 100% in last 3 weeks. But our casinos and tanning salons are still open.”

Baker had said last week that “one day doesn’t make a trend” and he was not prepared at the time to impose further restrictions.