Baker: Surge peak to hit nearer April 20
Urges public to use masks; calls up 3,000 from Guard
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER said on Friday that he thinks the peak of the upcoming COVID-19 surge is now going to hit closer to April 20, suggesting the curve is flattening a bit.
Baker has said the peak would probably come sometime between Friday and April 20. On Friday, he said the trend lines in confirmed cases and deaths continue to move upward but at a slower pace, which would having the peak coming closer to April 20. “There’s some indication our line is trending in that direction,” he said.
He said that’s good news in terms of keeping up with patient demand, but he emphasized that Massachusetts residents cannot back away from efforts to slow the spread of the disease. The Baker administration recommended that residents cover their nose and mouth with a mask, scarf, or bandana in situations where it is not possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The federal government issued similar guidance nearly a week ago.
In addition, Baker activated 3,000 additional National Guard troops, bringing the total to 5,000 statewide, and authorized grocery store and supermarket workers to obtain free COVID-19 tests at sites currently reserved for first responders.
Baker urged residents to remain at home, maintain social distancing, and practice good hygiene. “We’ll start talking about other stuff eventually, but the focus right now really needs to be on what’s right in front of us and what’s in front of us is a very difficult few weeks in managing something that’s never happened before,” he said.
The governor said the state appears to be on the upward slope of the outbreak. As of Friday, there were 20,974 positive tests in the state, an increase of 2,033 over Thursday. Baker said the peak will come when the number of new cases reaches 2,500 a day.
Baker said the fatality rate (deaths as a percentage of cases) is 2.7 percent, a bit lower than the national average of 3.5 percent and well below the more than 10 percent rate in several countries in Europe.
The governor said he welcomed the announcement by US Attorney Andrew Lelling that he would be investigating the outbreak of COVID-19 cases and deaths at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home to determine whether veterans there were not provided adequate medical care.“It would be difficult to overstate our obligation to the health and well-being of elderly and disabled military veterans and, by extension, to their families,” Lelling said in a statement. “We will aggressively investigate recent events at the Home and, as needed, require the Commonwealth to adopt reforms to ensure patient safety in the future. My condolences to the families of those veterans who died while in the Home’s care; we will get to the bottom of what happened here.”
Questions have been raised about whether state officials were notified of the spread of COVID-19 at the facility, with Baker saying he first learned about problems on a Sunday night and the former head of the home insisting he had provided regular updates to his superiors. Baker said the timing of notifications would be the focus of an investigation he ordered by private attorney Mark Pearlstein, but he added that when staff were dispatched to the home they quickly discovered “the place had real problems.”