Massachusetts up to 9 COVID-19 deaths; Baker orders nonessential businesses to close


BOSTON (WPRI) — Four more Massachusetts residents have died from COVID-19-related illness, the Department of Public Health announced Monday, bringing the state’s total to nine.

All four people were hospitalized and had underlying health conditions, according to the DPH. Two were women in their 70s from Essex and Worcester Counties while the third was a man in his 60s from Suffolk County and the fourth was a man in his 80s from Norfolk County.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, nearly 7,000 Massachusetts residents had been tested for coronavirus, of which 777 tested positive, the DPH said.

Earlier on Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced he would be issuing an emergency order for all “nonessential businesses” to close their workplaces by noon Tuesday.

Businesses deemed nonessential are encouraged to continue operations remotely, Baker said, while those on the list are urged to follow social distancing guidelines.

“Everyone should know: We will always allow all grocery stores, pharmacies, and other types of businesses that provide essential goods and services to Massachusetts residents to continue to operate, and we will not stop anyone from accessing these essential businesses,” he noted.

While on-site food and beverage consumption is prohibited, restaurants, bars and other establishments are encouraged to continue offering food through takeout and delivery.

Baker announced he’s directing the Department of Public Health to issue a “stay-at-home advisory” — though not an order — urging residents to avoid unnecessary activities and travel for the same two-week period. He strongly advised people over 70 and those with underlying health issues to stay home and limit interactions with others as much as possible.

Baker also further tightened restrictions on groups, banning gatherings of 10 or more. He said he doesn’t support home confinement for public health reasons, and said residents can still go for a walk, but should keep physical distance from one another.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced 23 new coronavirus cases on Monday, putting the state at 106 total. She also directed all air travelers — domestic and international — to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to Rhode Island.

In addition, Raimondo said she would sign an executive order postponing the state’s presidential primary until June 2.

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