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“If we can now limit face-to-face contact, we can slow the spread and get back to work as quickly and safely as possible,” Baker said during an afternoon meeting.
“People should stay at home,” he said, adding that an updated list of key companies includes chiropractors, opticians, and expanded categories of workers who perform disinfection and hygiene services. For a complete list of key companies, visit mass.gov.
“I know this is difficult to hear, but we need everyone to keep going without being around,”; said Baker. “We all need to be as targeted as possible about the contagious nature of this virus.”
Baker also announced that hotels, motels and online services such as Airbnb could only offer rooms for “limited purposes”, including “direct efforts to combat COVID-19”. He cited an example of healthcare workers and citizens who were driven out of their homes because of the virus.
The governor thanked citizens for their “care” in following his recommendation to stay at home.
“Most people do the right thing,” said Baker. “… don’t play basketball just because you can sit on the beach with your friends all day.”
He returned to the anecdote of having to speak to his 91-year-old father by phone during the pandemic instead of visiting him face to face.
“I miss him,” said Baker, looking choked. “But that’s the way it should be and it should be” in a time of social distancing.
During the briefing, Baker told reporters that the federal government had approved the state’s request to open three medical field stations to support the coronavirus response.
The first station will be a 250 bed facility at the DCU center in Worcester, Baker said, operated by UMass Memorial Medical Center staff. He said the state is actively looking for locations for the two additional stations.
“The next few weeks will be crucial in this fight,” said Baker. “Everyone has to play their part. … This state is full of remarkable people and remarkable communities. And again and again we have seen them rise together to fight, fight and win. “
Baker also discussed recent developments at Holyoke Soldier’s Home, where 13 residents are dead, including six who have died since March 1 and tested positive for COVID-19. Five more tests on victims are still pending.
“As someone who has visited this amazing place several times and found that he is a source of joy, grace, comfort and kindness for the residents, their families and the staff who work there, this episode is a difficult one Loss is devastating for all of us, ”said Baker. “Our hearts go out to the families, relatives and employees who have been so terribly affected by this series of events.”
The governor vowed that “we will get to the bottom of what happened and when and by whom.”
Secretary of State for Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders, told reporters that a state “clinical command team” was sent home to carry out a “comprehensive and rapid response to the outbreak”.
Sudders added that “100 percent” of the house’s residents and employees will be tested on COVID-19 and a hotline has been set up for family members of residents. Family members who want to search for loved ones can call 413-552-4764, Sudders said.
“Our priority is to ensure that the house is stabilized,” she said.