Baker Addresses Second COVID-19 Surge and Thanksgiving Holiday, Urges Caution

Governor Charlie Baker held a press conference on November 18 to address COVID-19 response in the state and what people can do to control the spread of the virus as the state deals with a second surge.

     Baker reported that as of Tuesday, the Commonwealth saw 2263 new cases of COVID-19, and the seven day average positive test rate is 3.25 percent. He said that 835 people are currently in the hospital with the virus, and 159 are in the ICU.

     He said that cases are up eight times what they were on Labor Day, and hospitalizations are up just over four percent. He said that these numbers are “moving in the wrong direction,” adding that the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday will increase the risk of people contracting the virus and passing it along to family members and friends.

     Baker said that most new cases are coming from household spread, and that the virus “thrives in indoor social environments where people let down their guard,” which could potentially create a dangerous spike in cases following the holiday.

     “Today, we’re urging everybody to make a difficult choice this Thanksgiving,” he said. He continued, “the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to only gather with members of your household.” Guidelines from the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving can be found at mass.gov/thanksgiving2020.

     Baker reminded residents that the state indoor gathering limit for private residences is 10 people. He also reminded residents of the travel restrictions, which include getting a negative test result 72 hours before returning to Massachusetts, or quarantining for 14 days. The list of restricted states can be found at mass.gov/matravel.

     He also talked about colleges and universities, and said that college students traveling home for the holiday should receive. A negative COVID Test within 72 hours of departure,” and colleges and universities should offer tests to both on and off campus students.

     If a student does test positive, they should remain in isolation in university housing dedicated for this purpose, and when students return to campus after the holiday, they need to have a negative test within 72 hours of their return to campus, whether they live on or off campus.

            He said that while there has been “lots of optimism” surrounding the recent news about vaccine trials, “we still have a way to go,” Baker said. “Until we get there,” everybody needs to do their part to help stop the spread, he said, including respecting the stay at home advisory from 10:00pm to 5:00am, wearing a mask at all times in public and avoiding social gatherings with those outside of your own household.

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