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Baker seeks to ‘onboard’ healthcare professionals quickly if crisis worsens


BOSTON (WPRI) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that he has not made plans to implement a shelter in place after the number of coronavirus cases in the state climbed to 218 on Tuesday.

The announcement came following “rumors” of a shelter in place, according to Baker.

“In times of crisis, it’s imperative that everyone get their news from legitimate places,” said Baker, who urged that citizens regularly check the state’s COVID-19 page.

“There will certainly be more cases of COVID-19 here in Massachusetts,” Baker said. “But we also know that if we take decisive steps now and everyone plays their part by following the best medical guidance, we can slow down the spread.”

The second-term governor outlined further action that the state will make to fight the fast-spreading virus, including $5 million in emergency funding to state and city boards of health, which he said came out of the $15 million approved by legislators last week.

“That money will go out today, and more will follow soon,” said Baker.

Emergency contracts will also be dispersed so that communities can receive funding, according to Baker. He said the largest municipalities with over 70,000 people or more will receive the contracts on Tuesday.

Baker said he also signed an executive order to allow the state to quickly “onboard” more licensed healthcare professionals.

“These orders will make it easier for licensed healthcare staff, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and respiratory technicians to work at another licensed facility,” said Baker.

The governor noted the action would also allow licensed out-of-state physicians to practice in Massachusetts. Retired doctors will also be able to reactivate their license.

“These orders also adjust minimum standards for ambulance staffing to ensure sufficient availability and capacity of EMS services,” said Baker.

The governor additionally urged residents to use Telehealth, which would allow patients to video conference with their doctors or speak with them on the phone rather than meeting with them in person.

Due to the impact of the outbreak on the economy, Baker also announced that the state has asked that the Small Business Administration issue a declaration of economic injury.

“This declaration would make it possible for low-interest loans to be made available to business owners affected by the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Baker.

Similar to Rhode Island, Massachusetts has also closed schools and is only allowing restaurants to offer takeout or delivery services.

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