Gov. Baker Extends Closing of Non-Essential Businesses, New Cases Up More than 800

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Gov. Charlie Baker announced that non-essential businesses would remain closed in Massachusetts through May 4 in an effort to control the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The announcement came before the announcement of the lastest statistics for the impact of COVID-19 in Massachusetts on Tuesday. The Mass. Department of Public Health announced 33 more deaths from the virus, brining the total to 89. Massachusetts has 868 new postive cases for a total of 6,620. The increase was the second highest one day jump in the Bay State. In Watertown, the total number of positive cases went up by six to 35, according to the Watertown Health Department’s website.

The order continues the closing of physical locations of businesses but Baker encouraged people to continue working remotely from home. The stay-at-home advisory for Bay State residents also remains in effect, Baker said.

“Here in Massachusetts, we’ve taken some of the earliest and most aggressive steps in the country to slow the spread of this virus and we must continue to be aggressive in our pursuits,” Baker said, according to a WBUR report.

The list of essential businesses were updated using the latest federal guidance.

Added to the list of health care workers considered essential are chiropractors and optometrists. It also expands the types of workers included in disinfectant and sanitition services. See the list of essential services by clicking here.

The Governor’s order also changes who can stay at hotels: “Based on this new guidance, hotels, motels, and short-term rentals may only be used for efforts related to fighting COVID-19, like front line health workers or individuals, or for Massachusetts residents who have been otherwise displaced from their residences,” according to the announcement from the Governor’s office.

A 250-bed field medical station that will be created at the DCU Center Worcester this week. This temporary facility will be managed by UMass Memorial hospital and staffed by the City of Worcester and others.

A pilot program to provide safe, on-site testing of symptomatic residents of nursing and rest homes with a quick turnaround will also start, according to the announcement. It is being overseen by the Mass. National Guard and the Broad Institute of Cambridge.

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