Baker: Outdoor nursing home visits can begin Wednesday; COVID-19 deaths top 7,000


BOSTON (WPRI) ─ Gov. Charlie Baker hit the ground running Monday, providing more specifics and guidelines ahead of Phase II of his plan to reopen the state’s economy, as Massachusetts health officials report an additional 189 deaths related to COVID-19.

The Mass. Department of Public Health said Monday it would now be reporting both confirmed and probable cases, in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Probable cases include residents who have not been tested but have experienced symptoms after being exposed to a person who tested positive. It also includes residents whose death certificate listed COVID-19 as a cause of death but were not tested for the virus.

Due to the reporting change, health officials said the number of new deaths and cases will increase, adding that the “newly reported totals are a result of a retrospective review of probable cases and deaths dating back to March 1.”

The 189 deaths reported Monday brings the state’s total to 7,035. As of right now, 141 of those deaths are considered probable.

In addition, the health department reported 3,840 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 100,805. The department said 3,514 of the reported cases are considered probable.

Baker said on June 3, the state will begin easing family visitation restrictions at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

He said scheduled outdoor visits will be allowed, but encouraged long-term care facilities to continue using virtual methods of communication between residents and visitors as well.

Reopening: Here’s what is open in Rhode Island and Massachusetts »

No more than two visitors will be allowed to see a resident at each time and must be screened prior to the visit. A facility staff member must be present for each visit.

Baker also provided reopening guidance for summer camps and child care facilities, which includes extensive cleaning protocols and screening procedures.

Before reopening, programs and facilities must have a plan in place to handle possible closings, staff absences and gaps in child attendance.

Children must be limited to groups of 10, with two staff members per group. The infant-to-staff ratio is smaller, however, with seven infants to every two staff members. All groups should be kept in cohorts and not mix.

Everyone except for children under 2 is required to wear a face mask, and parents will be required to drop their kids off on a staggered schedule.

Baker is also allowing specific businesses to reopen to employees only prior to Phase II. He said the businesses will be allowed to begin making preparations to reopen.

Reopening checklists for businesses »

Those preparations, according to Baker, include implementing sector-specific safety protocols for both employees and customers.

Baker expects the state to enter Phase II by June 8.

Learn More: Reopening Massachusetts »

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