Baker says Biden won ‘fair and square’

Calls challenges, accusations an ‘affront to democracy’

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER took aim at President Trump and members of his own party on Monday for continuing to challenge the results of the presidential election.

“President-elect Joe Biden won the election fair and square. He did,” said Baker at a State House press conference.

Baker’s comments came in the wake of news reports about a call Trump made to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, urging him to find enough votes to declare the president the winner of the state. Several Republicans in Congress, apparently with the blessing of Vice President Mike Pence, are also threatening to object to Electoral College results in several key states.

“The noise and the accusations and the commentary about challenging this or that is an affront to democracy and to the voice of the people who voted in record numbers during this election,” the governor said. “For the life of me, I don’t see how people in my party can say all the other elections in which their folks barely won were fine, and the only one that they seem to have any concerns about is the one at the top of the ticket.”

Baker said the focus right now should not be on challenging election results but on making sure the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine goes smoothly. “That, in my view, is where our colleagues at the federal level should be focusing their time and their attention,” he said.

Those 75-plus move up on vaccine priority list

Massachusetts public health officials are changing the state’s vaccine priority list, elevating those 75 and older to the top of the second phase of distribution.

Under the state’s original plan, there are two major phases, with a third phase opening vaccinations to all comers. Phase 1 targets health care workers doing COVID-19 facing care; staff and residents of long-term care facilities; first responders; congregate care settings, including shelters and prison inmates; home-based health care workers; and health care workers providing non-COVID facing care.

Vaccination of health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities has already begun, and first responders are scheduled to start receiving vaccines next Monday, with the administration setting up individual and regional vaccination sites.

Initial vaccine priority list

Under Phase 2, the top priority is individuals with two or more comorbidities; essential workers in early education, K-12, transit, grocery, utility, food and agriculture, sanitation, and public works and public health; those over 65; and those with one comorbidity.

After the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance suggesting those over 75 should be elevated on the priority list, the Baker administration decided to do just that, moving the estimated 175,000 people in the state over 75 to the top of the Phase 2 distribution list, along with those with two or more comorbidities.

Christmas surge may have less punch

The number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts continues to rise, but the Baker administration sent some signals on Monday that the post-Christmas surge may be less severe than what occurred after Thanksgiving.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

For most of the last three weeks, the state has been perched on a plateau in terms of cases and high-risk communities, with numbers not going up but also not going down. On Monday, Baker indicated the post-Christmas surge was not that bad. “I think this Thanksgiving was worse than this,” he said.

Baker administration officials said they had no plans to open a third field hospital after opening facilities in Worcester and Lowell. State and local officials said they are opening a closed 123-bed nursing home facility in New Bedford on January 17 to care for hospital patients recovering from COVID-19. The so-called Buttonwood facility opened in April but then closed again. A second facility in New Bedford is not being reopened at this time.