Gov. Charlie Baker is doing at least one more COVID-19 press conference to close out 2020.
On the penultimate day of the year Wednesday, the Massachusetts governor is scheduled to speak about the state’s response to the pandemic, alongside Lt. Gov. Karen Polito and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, at noon at the State House in Boston.
The press conference comes amid concerns that Massachusetts could be on the verge of another post-holiday increase in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Logan Airport in Boston saw the highest number of daily travelers since the beginning of the pandemic in the run-up to Christmas, though levels were still down significantly compared to previous years.
The Baker administration had urged residents against celebrating the winter holidays with people outside their households, after Massachusetts saw a significant increase coronavirus rates after Thanksgiving.
“We’re basically begging everyone to stay within their immediate household over the course of this holiday season,” Baker said on the Monday before Christmas last week.
After ordering an incremental rollback of the state’s reopening plan and tightening face covering requirements for restaurants, gyms, and offices, Baker also reduced capacity limits for most businesses last week to 25 percent of their maximum legal occupancy in response to the heightened COVID-19 levels.
The post-Thanksgiving surge in cases — which averaged more than 4,500 new daily infections a day in early December — appeared to slow slightly over the past week or so. The state reported 3,659 new cases on Tuesday. However, the seven-day average positive test rate in Massachusetts — after hovering around 6 percent for the first three weeks of the month — has begun to climb again, ticking up to 7.6 percent on Tuesday.
Massachusetts has also seen a steady rise in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 over the past two months. The state reported 2,259 hospitalizations Tuesday and hospitals across the state are at between 80 percent and 90 percent capacity. Beginning this past Saturday, hospitals were ordered to cancel or postpone all non-emergency elective procedures, as long as the delay in treatment would not put the patient’s health at risk.
State officials also announced a $668 million relief plan last week aimed toward small businesses, like restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues, that have been been hit hardest by the pandemic.
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