Baker takes stock of unprecedented pandemic
Bangs his fists on lectern as he says goodbye to 2020
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER’S feelings about the year 2020 echoed public sentiment when he slammed his fists on a lectern at the State House Wednesday afternoon.
“As we close out 2020, finally, we’re again urging everyone if they can to stay home,” Baker said, banging both fists.
Almost 10 months into the pandemic, coronavirus has infected at least 350,000 Massachusetts residents and taken the lives of almost 12,000 people. Baker also listed the ongoing economic impact to businesses and the strain on the health care system as he took stock of the unprecedented time.
“I know what tomorrow night is: it’s New Year’s Eve,” Baker said. “And I know that the start of the new year for all of us is a chance to breathe a deep sigh of relief. But I would just ask everybody to continue to stay put.” He said the coronavirus has been tough on everyone. “If you wanted to put together a virus that was as destructive physically, emotionally, and spiritually as it could possibly be, it would look like COVID-19,” he said, noting at one point that he hadn’t seen his own father for 100 days.
Asked to respond to the ongoing criticisms from firefighters about the state having no plan to vaccinate local first responders, Baker said the administration plans to meet with first responders on Thursday and discuss what can be done.
“We have to figure out what the right approach to this is and what could be done by the locals and what ought to be done with the support of the Commonwealth,” Baker said. Union representatives for firefighters say 350 of them have tested positive for the virus over the course of the pandemic, and that other states have already administered a first dose to first responders.
So far, 75,000 vaccines have been distributed to health care workers and seniors statewide. Baker said the numbers are being logged into a vaccination database, but that the number could be slightly higher as there is a lag in input.
The state has received 146,000 first doses of the Moderna vaccine, 86,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and had 68,000 allocated to a vaccination program run CVS and Walgreens for residents and staff of long-term care facilities. More than 20,000 people will receive their first doses as part of that program by the end of the week and 219,000 by the end of January.
The first vaccines to residents of the state-run Holyoke and Chelsea soldiers’ homes — which suffered significant losses due to COVID-19—were administered on Tuesday and, as of Wednesday, all who wanted a vaccine had received one.In one particularly emotional moment, Baker admonished those who seek to “cut the line” to get the vaccine ahead of people with significant health issues.
“I think the lieutenant governor and I made pretty clear that, from the beginning, that we believe that while we work a lot, we are not, from our point of view, worthy of cutting the line,” he said.