Baker: Reopening process will take time as state continues COVID-19 testing, contact tracing

Coronavirus

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The state of Massachusetts is making strides when it comes to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday, but it’s not enough to start moving toward reopening the economy.

Baker held his daily briefing in Fall River while paying a visit to SSTAR, an addiction treatment center turned mobile testing site.

He continued to avoid giving specifics on his four-phase approach to getting businesses and services back open, noting that it will be a gradual process.

“I want this to be done in a deliberate way, and you don’t do something in a deliberate way when you start leaking it out,” he said.

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The Mass. Department of Public Health reported 174 more deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 5,315, along with 1,165 new cases for a total of 80,497, of which roughly 4% are currently hospitalized.

The state has performed more than 400,000 COVID-19 tests to date, according to the DPH.

Full breakdown of today’s COVID-19 data (Mass.gov) »

Baker said the state is now testing up to 30,000 people per day, but that alone isn’t enough to move forward with his reopening plan.

“We also need to identify confirmed cases and the people they might have exposed to the virus and who might have exposed them to the virus,” he explained.

Last month, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to launch a thorough contact-tracing process, according to Baker. The state has thousands of contact tracers calling people who may have been exposed to the virus in an effort to make sure they get tested and track where the virus came from, as well as where it may go next.

He urged people to take those calls and participate, saying it should show up on your phone as MA COVID TEAM or an 833 or 857 area code.

Acknowledging the difficulty of not knowing when you’ll be able to go out and enjoy a meal with friends or take in a ball game again, Baker asked people to be patient.

“I say all the time, in the end, we should all think about where we want to be when we go down the road several months from now, not necessarily where we want to be tomorrow,” he said.

For more information on COVID-19 in Massachusetts, visit Mass.gov, call 211 or text COVIDMA or COVIDMAESP (Spanish) to 888-777 to receive text notifications.

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