Mar 24, 2020
Gov Charlie Baker Massachusetts Coronavirus Briefing Transcript
Charlie Baker provided a press briefing on March 24 for COVID-19. He said he wants construction work to continue despite the pandemic. Read the full transcript of his speech here.
Charlie Baker: (00:00)
Time and opportunity to meet the challenge ahead of us. The goal of course, is to flatten the curve so that the number of cases doesn’t overwhelm our healthcare system all at once. There’s no question that these are challenging and unprecedented times, but I know that people of this great Commonwealth will meet this challenge as they always have had on. As we’ve said before, ramping up testing capabilities is a big part of pushing back against this threat. The command center has been working hard to increase the Commonwealth’s ability to do that with both the State Public Health Lab and with many other private labs and healthcare labs. We’re continuing to make progress and increasing the number of tests completed, as well as our testing capacity. There have now been almost 9,000 tests completed in Massachusetts, which is up from around 6,000 on Sunday. In addition to the State Public Health Lab and Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, there are now 10 additional labs that are up and running.
Charlie Baker: (01:02)
Beth Israel Deaconess, BioReference, Children’s Hospital Boston, Mayo Clinic, Partners Healthcare, Tufts Medical Center, Viracor are now among the labs submitting test results to DPH. This is big progress from where we were even a week ago. I also want to remind folks the number of tests we do in Massachusetts goes up. We will expect the number of cases, the number of positive tests to go up as well. And the command center will continue to expand testing capacity across the state. As a reminder, if you have questions about tests for yourself or your family, if you are showing signs and symptoms associated with something like the flu, you should stay home and begin first by contacting your medical provider. Remember, as we’ve said, many times, telehealth services, phone calls, video chats with a trusted provider are a defined benefit here in the Commonwealth of Mass.
Charlie Baker: (02:07)
We need to keep people that don’t need to be in our hospitals and medical facilities out, so that we can allow our providers to focus on the people who need the help the most. I want to share a few other quick updates from the command center. As of this morning, the department of public health has made 89 deliveries of Strategic National Stockpile assets to healthcare facilities across the Commonwealth. DPH has received several shipments from the Strategic National Stockpile and over 750,000 masks, face shields, gowns and pairs of gloves have been delivered to DPH and are being distributed. MEMA began distributing personal protective equipment on Monday to at least 15 locations including fire police and first responders.
Charlie Baker: (02:59)
In response to a letter from Secretary Marylou Sudders last Friday, the Massachusetts dental community donated masks, hand sanitizers and gloves, and we are very grateful that so many people are helping out in this critical effort. Similar outreach for PPE donations has gone out to the construction industry and to vocational school communities. These folks likely have more gear that we can repurpose to help our frontline medical workers. Finally, as we noticed yesterday, the department of public health advisory has been posted on mass.gov regarding stay at home practices. The advisory offers clear guidance to our residents on ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep their families and communities healthy.
Charlie Baker: (03:42)
The DPH advisory reflects yesterday’s announcement by strongly advising residents who are 70 years and older and those with underlying health conditions to stay at home with the exception of essential trips for food, medicine and focus time for exercise and fresh air. Advising all residents to stay home as much as they can and avoid unnecessary activities for the next few weeks. Urging residents to practice social distancing and safe hygiene practices throughout their daily activities. ,Staying at home means only leaving home to address essential needs like going to the grocery store, the pharmacy taking a walk for fresh air or something similar. Everyone is encouraged to call or video chat instead of visiting friends and family.
Charlie Baker: (04:33)
This of course, is not easy. It’s not what we’re used to doing with our family and our friends, but it’s hugely important and it is one very significant way everyone can participate in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and especially in keeping loved ones safe. This order is effective as of noon Monday. More details are obviously available at mass.gov/covid19. throughout the outbreak, we’ve constantly reminded our residents that we all need to get our information, your information from trusted sources. Today, we’re making that easier with a new program. Today, we’re announcing a new tool, Alerts Mass, alerts’ actually MA in our efforts to inform the public about COVID-19 which will enable you to get up-to-date alerts about Coronavirus sent right to your phone. This can be used to share news prevention information and help us connect residents to information they may be seeking.
Charlie Baker: (05:35)
Residents can text COVIDMA, all one word to 888-777 to sign up for updates. These alerts will include important information like the latest news and updates from our administration and the command center, public health tips on social and physical distancing, personal hygiene and other ways to stay healthy and important alerts about state services. We’re not looking to bombard folks and add to the information overload many already feel. Most days we will only push out one or two notifications. But this is a great way to stay in touch with the Commonwealth government and to hear the latest announcement from trusted sources. It may also provide some relief from staying glued to your television all day to hear the latest headlines.
Charlie Baker: (06:23)
I want to thank our team at the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security for working with Everbridge, a mass-based company located in Burlington to bring this new capability to the Commonwealth and to the people in Massachusetts. We’ve been working hard, as many of you know, to also deal with red tape where we can to give our agencies and our cities and towns more flexibility as they respond to the virus. As a few examples, we’ve made it easier for nurses licensed in other states to work in Massachusetts for our hospitals need to call in more frontline healthcare workers. We also had issued a series of new emergency orders to make it easier for medical professionals to work at neighboring hospitals. That way, if they need more people at a certain hospital, like Mass General, for example, we can call over staff from other hospitals to support them.
Charlie Baker: (07:11)
We’ve expanded telehealth services as I mentioned before so that people can call or video conference with providers instead of visiting a hospital or a provider organization. And we’ve issued relaxed administrative requirements, so more physician’s assistants can work on supporting treatment for COVID-19 patients instead of other assignments such as elective surgeries. A lot’s been done to support our healthcare system and other functions of government. And today, we’re pleased to introduce a new piece of legislation that cuts red tape for our cities and towns. As former local officials, Lieutenant Governor Polito and I understand the challenges that cities and towns deal with every day as we all battle COVID-19, our municipalities need new tools and resources to ensure the continuity of local government and to support the needs of their residents. Our local leaders obviously are focused on ensuring the health and safety of their residents. And our goal with this new bill we’re filing today is to cut down on some of the bureaucratic processes they would typically need to go through or could go through if they could actually meet physically. The Lieutenant Governor will provide some details on this bill in a minute.
Charlie Baker: (08:22)
For the last two days, we’ve all been following closely the developments in Washington. The debate around the economic aid path package in the senate, well, frankly, it’s been appalling, but I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve watched and seen governors and mayors and other elected officials completely shift their focus to the task at hand without the slightest part is in bend. So I know it’s possible if they choose to for DC to do the same. I think we all hope and try to be confident the Congress will get the job done and soon because this kind of partisan behavior is simply not an option now. It may take a little longer than it should. In fact, that already has for Washington to come around, but I’m hopeful and confident that they will and that they will soon.
Charlie Baker: (09:15)
As I said, governors, mayors, and other elected officials at the state and local level are stepping up on this. We’ve been very pleased that we’ve had a chance to talk to and engage with many of them over the course of the past several weeks. I myself have probably talked either directly or on calls with more than 40 of our nation’s governors over the past 14 days and they are all stepping up for their states and doing everything they possibly can to help their people stay safe throughout this crisis. And as we all know, these are very uncertain and challenging times and the situation is changing and evolving constantly. We remain enormously thankful that the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have brought determination, guile, creativity and guts to this process. And we appreciate enormously their commitment to staying home, distancing themselves on what would be otherwise traditional person to person contact, engaging in the kind of personal hygiene that’s critical to keep them and their family members and friends safe and doing all that they can to stop the spread. Residents can stay up-to-date on the latest information from trusted sources by visiting mass.gov/covid19, calling 211 with questions which at this point is answered and responded to thousands and thousands of inquiries. Sign up for this new text update by texting COVIDMA, one word to 888-777 and get your news from reliable sources wherever they may be. And now I want to turn the podium over to Lieutenant Governor Polito who can talk a little bit more about this municipal legislation we’re filing today. Thank you.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (11:09)
Good afternoon and thank you Governor Baker and thank all of you for listening in to the latest updates that we can share with you. As the governor indicated in the COVID-19 has touched every aspect of our lives. It seems like every day there are new ways that we can determine how to approach this, serve the people of this Commonwealth better and to respond, react and do what’s necessary to keep the people of this Commonwealth safe. When I think about keeping this Commonwealth safe, there’s no doubt in my mind or the governors that we couldn’t do this without the support and without the work with our partners at the local level. Overnight, just for instance, you have communities like Brookline and Northbridge and Sutton having emergency responders…
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (12:03)
… Northbridge and Sutton having emergency responders put out major fires. You have local government figuring out how their workforce comes to their city or town hall or works remotely to continue to deliver services to the people of the community. Of course, now ramping up more efforts through their boards of health and basically mobilizing their operation centers and teams to help us combat the COVID-19 epidemic.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (12:37)
It’s clear that we have to stick together, but stick together in a time where social distancing is becoming and is a very much a real part of our lives. It’s just really a thank you in appreciation and of a great statement of value to the men and women who literally wake up every day in our communities and go to work to support the people of our 351 cities and towns.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (13:06)
In local government, they certainly have some basic things that they need to do, but there are rules also that they need to abide by. In order for them to be more flexible, more able to make decisions and respond to the needs of the people in their community, there are some things that we in the executive branch and the legislature will need to do to support them.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (13:31)
First of all when it comes to education, we all know that our schools have been out of in-class learning now for over a week. We at the same time working with the department know that we need to give school districts more flexibility about how they can work with the Student Opportunity Act. For instance, extending the April 1st deadline for the three-year plan that they need to prepare is something that Commissioner Riley has asked us to seek support for.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (14:06)
Thinking about the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education with the recommendation of Commissioner Riley, they need to think about the guidance and standards for high school graduation. We also need to work with the department and the commissioner to how to modify or utilize or wave MCAS requirements that have been such a major piece of the quality of the public education that we offer here in the Commonwealth to uphold standards. These are some very significant and real issues that our local partners and our department are working with to sort out the impact on public education here in our Commonwealth.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (14:48)
The package also includes some changes relative to municipal finance giving more flexibility to our regional school districts who are also in need of proposing and passing budgets for the next fiscal year. But the statutorily-required vote that they need to take in order to process a budget, giving them some flexibility about how they do that so that they still have a budget to be able to work with to deliver education resources as needed.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (15:20)
When it comes to our taxpayers, our local taxpayers, giving them more flexibility to pay their taxes without incurring penalties. Many of you know that the tax date in some municipalities is May 1st. Allowing them to change that date to June 1st is something that they are looking for flexibility around.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (15:43)
Think about local projects and permitting. Some of these matters are pending before boards. These boards can’t assemble and hold hearings. We want to make sure that working with the project proponents that they have some flexibility around this area so that no permit will be automatically granted approved or denied because a local authority can’t convene a hearing. Any permit that is currently valid will not lapse or expire during this state of emergency so that it can be acted on at a time when it’s appropriate for that body to issue it. Applications for permits will be filed electronically to eliminate the in-person filing at their municipal building. The suspension of any requirement that a hearing on a permit application be held within a certain period until 45 days after the state of emergency will give our local communities more flexibility around projects, permitting and related issues there.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (16:52)
We’ve heard a lot about the frontline workers, your police, your fire, your emergency responders. Also, because they are always there for us being impacted by the virus. When they come offline because they need to isolate or quarantine or recover, the municipalities need a redundant workforce to be able to respond to the local calls. They’ve asked us to work with them so that retirees who are collecting pensions can return to work at the local level if we adjust salaries and wage hours that are currently limiting their ability to go and do that work.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (17:36)
Think about law enforcement and their process to get a search warrant on a criminal matter. The process requires them to go physically to a court house or a judge or a clerk magistrate to issue a search warrant. We’re requesting that that process be converted to an electronic signature process. Just amazing the details of how government works, but in a crisis like this, these adjustments need to be made so that it can continue to work.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (18:09)
We’ve heard a lot from our local businesses, especially our restaurants. Many of these restaurants that we all enjoy have had to shut their business, but those that have converted their business to take out and delivery operations have requested that we allow those businesses that are legally authorized to offer beer and wine for on-consumption premises, since they won’t be able to do on-consumption premises delivery to be able to add that beer or wine in a sealed container to a takeout meal or a delivery meal. That is also included in this municipal relief package.
Lieutenant Governor Polito: (18:55)
Clearly everyone has a role to play, every single one of us. Whether it’s maintaining your personal hygiene, helping your neighbor, returning to your work because you are an essential part of helping us respond and eventually recover. We know that we will all do better when we work together. I just want to thank everyone for their understanding, but their diligence to take this seriously and to do your part. I’d now like to turn it over to the Governor.
Charlie Baker: (19:29)
Speaker 1: (19:31)
Governor, we talked to a local building commissioner today. He said that you wording on construction work in his words, “Makes no sense.” He says that luxury construction including building swimming pools, [inaudible 00:19:42] models, et cetera continue even thought they’re clearly not essential. We also talked to some construction workers who say they’re scared. That they’re are being forced to stay on those jobs where social distancing is impossible. It’s a two-part question. Why are these non-essential construction jobs being allowed to continue? Two, what do you say to some of these workers who say they’re scared and shouldn’t be forced to do any job?
Charlie Baker: (20:04)
We’re going to be issuing guidance shortly today or tomorrow, which I mentioned yesterday with respect to construction to establish standards around safe practices for construction work in Massachusetts. But the second thing I would say is no one disputes the fact that we have a housing problem in Massachusetts. We have a lot of housing construction currently going on in Massachusetts. To completely lose potentially all of that new housing for the Commonwealth housing stock would be a tremendous loss. There is public construction that’s going on that needs to be completed. Some of it has to do with upgrading existing infrastructure, but a lot of it has to do with expanding infrastructure that people have deemed critical and important that needs to be continued and finished.
Charlie Baker: (20:55)
The thing to remember about just shutting down construction is you’re not shutting it down in many cases for a few days. You may be shutting it down permanently in some cases. A lot of the work that’s being done that’s associated with construction in Massachusetts has significant value to the people of the Commonwealth. Absolutely there need to be guidance and standards in place with respect to safety. We plan to issue those shortly.
Speaker 2: (21:20)
Governor, have we [inaudible 00:21:21] 3,500 tests to date in Massachusetts?
Charlie Baker: (21:23)
No, we’re probably … I don’t know. It depends upon what comes in, but we’re not there yet, but that’s where we need to get to.
Speaker 3: (21:31)
Governor, you mentioned that you would be announcing something for renters and homeowners in the coming days. Obviously, April 1st is coming up. When is that going to be coming out? Second, would you be supporting any sort of state economic aid package in addition to what is being debated at the federal level as you called the [halt 00:21:59]?
Charlie Baker: (21:49)
First of all, it’s very hard for states to make decisions if they don’t know what the Feds are doing. Which is why I think it’s so important for the … and by the way, cities and towns feel the same way. Which is why it’s so important for the Feds to decide what it is they are going to do and to do it. Certainty and clarity from the Federal Government on many of these issues is sort of a bulwark to our ability to make decisions about what we can do at the state level.
Charlie Baker: (22:15)
Remind me again with the first part of the question was?
Speaker 3: (22:17)
Renters and homeowners.
Charlie Baker: (22:18)
I would just start by reminding everybody that in Massachusetts mortgagers have a 90-day period to cure. Renters have a 60-day period to cure. You can’t foreclose and you can’t evict without going to court. As of right now, the courts don’t plan to be open until the sort of middle of April. I think it’s around the 21st of April that they’ve talked about revisiting when they might open. But we’ve also had conversations with our colleagues in the legislature about this issue and are currently engaging them in discussions about what else we might do.
Charlie Baker: (22:58)
I don’t think it makes sense necessarily for us to file legislation given how difficult it is at this point to engage the legislative process, especially if there’s an issue that the legislature wants to work on. There’s a back and forth going on between our administration, the House and the Senate, to come up with some additional strategies to deal with homeowners and renters. But I would start with the fundamental premise that in Massachusetts under existing state law, 90 days to cure on mortgages, 60 days to cure on rents. That’s the law. We are going to enforce it. I know other state agencies, and I know many local officials feel the same way about that.
Speaker 4: (23:40)
Governor, [inaudible 00:23:41] perhaps [inaudible 00:23:43] conversations in the legislature or encouraging landlords to maybe forgive April month’s rent for a tax deduction or anything like that?
Charlie Baker: (23:55)
There’s a conversation that’s going on between us and the legislature about this issue statutorily. My hope is that we’ll be able to reach an agreement on …
Charlie Baker: (24:03)
My hope is that we’ll be able to reach an agreement on something that we could do with respect to these two issues, if not this week, certainly early next week.
Speaker 5: (24:10)
Senator Warren or Markey about what’s going on in the Senate with this federal package?
Charlie Baker: (24:15)
I haven’t talked to them specifically about this, but I know many people in our administration have had conversations with people on their teams. Yeah.
Speaker 6: (24:24)
Charlie Baker: (24:26)
Make a deal, make a deal. I mean, remember, the legislation that’s currently in front of the Senate went through a whole series of bi-partisan, that means Republican and Democrat, decision makers over the course of the past two weeks in both the House and the Senate. And I did call Richie Neal, who’s the chair of the House Ways and Means committee and congratulate him for the work that he did getting that bill on a bipartisan basis through the House. I think it’s critical that these folks find a way to yes and create some clarity and some certainty, not just for state government and local government, but for the people of the country who are waiting to see the federal government lead on this issue.
Speaker 7: (25:13)
Governor, the President’s comments last night about easing restrictions, is that at odds with the message you’re trying to put across? Did his comments undermine what you’re trying to do?
Charlie Baker: (25:20)
I don’t think … I mean, generally speaking, I think the message that’s coming from myself, the Lieutenant governor, the command center, local officials, healthcare experts, almost anybody who’s involved in the conversation in Massachusetts has been loud and consistent with the respect to the importance of both physical and social distancing, not engaging in non-essential activity, staying at home as much as possible, and also appreciating and understanding that there are essential businesses out there and essential workers who need to continue to work during this crisis. But that said, I think the message from all of us in public life needs to be based on the guidelines we’ve been getting from both federal agencies, state agencies, and frankly, from the experience and the progress, to the extent there has been some, in other countries, which is social and physical distancing, personal hygiene, ramped up testing, tracking and tracing and isolation for those who are deemed to have either been infected or likely to be infected is the way you actually get your arms around this. And I think any message other than that … We need to pound that message home day after day after day.
Speaker 8: (26:49)
Charlie Baker: (26:52)
We have staggering numbers of people who fortunately we have an unemployment insurance system that can actually collect staggering numbers of people. We didn’t have one two years ago. But anybody who thinks the economy isn’t in terrible peril and that that peril is creating terrible, terrible anxiety and concerns for people, we have two problems. One is we have this public health threat that is enormous and deadly and right in front of us. And at the same time, we have the actions that we are taking, and we admit this, to this public health threat that is creating profound, unprecedented economic dislocation. And that is why, in some respects, it’s so important for us to focus on what we need to do to limit the spread and to flatten the curve and to help our healthcare system prepare for what will be a dramatic increase in the number of cases that they need to deal with and at the same time ramp up the stuff that other countries have proven makes a difference, which is far more testing than we’re doing now. If we get to the point where we’re doing far more testing, doing the tracking and tracing and isolation that comes with that, and recognizing and understanding that that’s the only way to get ahead of this.
Speaker 9: (28:17)
Governor, do you have any guidance for the municipalities on how to enforce the stay at home advisory and also doing [inaudible 00:28:25] stay closed. Are there any penalties? It seems like-
Charlie Baker: (28:30)
Well, the stay at home advisory is an advisory. I said during the press conference yesterday that I don’t believe I can or should or that we can or should shut people in their homes for days on end. I don’t think it’s good for public health. I don’t think it’s the right decision. And people do need to go to the grocery store. If they work in an essential business or they work providing an essential service, they need to be able to do that. They need to be able to go to the pharmacy. If they work in healthcare, they need to be able to go to the healthcare institution they work for, which is why the stay at home information that the department and the command center put out is advisory. With respect to essential and nonessential operations, the essential operation portfolio that we put out, which is available on the state’s website, builds off a national standard that every other state that’s head down this road has basically used as their baseline. And I don’t know what the percentage of crossover would be between and among states, but I’m going to put it north of 90%. For all intents and purposes, it is what people believe needs to continue to operate and continue to perform during a time like this.
Charlie Baker: (29:43)
We have had thousands of inquiries, mostly done online, back and forth through emails with the Department of Housing and Economic Development to find clarity around some of the categories. But generally speaking, it’s a pretty well-defined and relatively user friendly list. And if communities have questions about that stuff, they can reach out to HED, but they can also reach out to the folks they typically deal with who are in local services and get guidance and advice from them as well. There are penalties on the … There are escalating penalties on the issue associated with non-essential operations.
Speaker 10: (30:27)
Some towns and cities are shutting down parks. Is that something you can advise?
Charlie Baker: (30:32)
We did not advise shutting down parks, no. What we did advise was no more than 10 in a gathering and no basketball games, no touch football, none of the sort of athletic engagements in parks that would create the kind of person to person contact which we’ve all been saying for so long is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.
Speaker 11: (30:57)
Governor, can you talk a little bit about two aspects of the [inaudible 00:00:30:59]. One is you started at a age category to those who got infected. What do you make of the-
Charlie Baker: (31:09)
This sounds to me like a question I’m going to punt to the command center director.
Speaker 11: (31:14)
Testing aspect in relation to the growing number of people tested. Who’s testing them? Is capitalism working on that? Is this just drawing lots of people in because there’s a tremendous need right now? What’s happening?
Charlie Baker: (31:29)
Well, I’m going to let Mary Lou probably give the right answer to both of these. The one thing I would say is when we went out and visited Quest Diagnostics last week, the one thing they were able to do that I think was important here was pivot. And they basically just took a whole chunk of space in their existing operation that had not been doing COVID-19 tests, decided that they needed to make this sort of the service center for a lot of their operations in the Northeast and a lot of their customers in the Northeast, and they built, in the space of a few days, a pretty robust testing capability there. But for them to do that, a couple of things had to happen. One is the CDC needed to change the guidelines with respect to who got tested and open up the testing protocols. And the second thing they needed to do was to say that the test kits that are developed by Quest and then used by Quest customers would be considered FDA and CDC approved.
Speaker 11: (32:35)
Charlie Baker: (32:39)
Well, yes, sort of. But if you were to ask anybody at this point, I mean, I talk to the insurance carriers all the time and I ask them if anything unusual is going on with respect to how these tests are being priced. And the answer is no. They are certainly doing many more of them, no question about that. But I want them to do many more of them.
Speaker 11: (32:58)
How much do they cost?
Charlie Baker: (32:59)
They vary a lot depending upon the nature of the test. But you know what? I think I know the answer to that one, but I’m going to let us get back to you on it. But it does vary. But on the other question about the age stuff and just the changing of the reporting, I’ll let the secretary speak to that.
Mary Lou: (33:20)
So one of the, as you know, which does seem like a very long time ago, when we first started to report, the only data we could really report was the state lab. And in fact, commercial labs, when they started come online, the only thing that they’re actually required to report to the Department of Public Health and to the CDC was positive cases. So as you go through all of the increasing test capacity, you come up with all these other issues you have to work through. So one was we worked with all the commercial labs. And anyone who’s coming online has to report two things to us. They obviously have to report on the positive cases, but they also, we need to know the number of people they’ve total tested because that gives you then a better sense of what the, right, the percentage of individuals who are tested are positive.
Mary Lou: (34:12)
The age is very important for many reasons. One is I think it gives all of us a sense that pretty much anyone could be infected. We know that the fatality is higher, right, for people who are over 60, 65, and 85. But the fact is when you see the range of individuals who are infected, that does two things. One is hopefully it reminds everyone that we need to engage in social distancing quite honestly. And that no one is immune from becoming infected. That was actually, Bruce, one of the reasons we wanted to put out the data. And also there’s a cry from people who are researchers and the like to see what the impact is in Massachusetts, across our state. So as we continue to refine our testing capacity and what comes into us and we can validate it, we’re going to make it publicly available because we’ve heard people just giving one number a day wasn’t enough. And it wasn’t enough. And so we continue, as we can validate the information, we will make it public for people because it’s important for all of us to have. What was the second part of your question? I’m sorry.
Speaker 11: (35:20)
Well I think you’ve answered that, but the ages, anyone can get infected, but does your feeling about over 60 people are in greater danger still hold?
Mary Lou: (35:31)
Yes. So as you know, of the nine people who’ve died in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to date, right? That’s yesterday’s numbers. We’ll be updating our numbers, obviously, at four o’clock as we’ve made a commitment. Everyone was over the age of 50. Seven of the nine had confirmed underlying medical conditions, and the other two are still being investigated in terms of whether there are underlying medical conditions. But seven of the nine had underlying medical, complex medical conditions, and everyone was over the age of 50. There was-
Mary Lou: (36:03)
… complex medical conditions and everyone was over the age of 50. There was one person 50 and then the others. And we’re going to actually post also, starting next week, like we did for [Tripple E 00:36:12]. We’ll start putting up the greater information about people who’ve died in Massachusetts. [crosstalk 00:36:21] I’m sorry.
Speaker 12: (36:21)
I’m sorry, is there a reason the towns are not listed, especially towns with hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people where they wouldn’t be personally identifiable?
Mary Lou: (36:35)
There’s a stigma attached to all kinds of communicable diseases. There were several individuals very early on who were tested positive, who through social media and the like were identified locally really were cyber bullied. We have always made, or generally, we have made the decision to only put out county based data. And if people want to self disclose the information, they can. But generally we take the position on these communicable diseases and virus diseases like this that do have a stigma attached to them, that we’ll only put out county based data at this point.
Speaker 12: (37:20)
What about deaths [inaudible 00:37:21]?
Mary Lou: (37:20)
On deaths we put out county [crosstalk 00:37:24]. No. And again, I think if a family wants to disclose, that’s obviously their right. But we’re going to stick to the county based data.
Charlie Baker: (37:39)
So that was two questions at the same time, so I didn’t hear the beginning of either one of them.
Speaker 13: (37:42)
Governor [inaudible 00:37:45] previous question was asked [inaudible 00:37:48] start again, how concerned are you that just businesses, whether it’s restaurants, health clubs, construction, whatever, they may not be starting or [inaudible 00:37:55] when this is over?
Charlie Baker: (37:57)
I think that’s one of the things that makes me anxious about federal progress on creating a stimulus package. State governments, local governments, we have to balance our budges. Whatever revenue we have, that’s what we got. We talked before about the fact that we spent a lot of work, we’ve done a lot of work with our colleagues in the legislature to dramatically expand the size of our stabilization fund. That will help.
Charlie Baker: (38:22)
But in the end, the only entity that can truly spend significantly when there’s a downturn in the economy is the federal government. Many of the elements of the legislations that’s currently stalled were designed to deal with some of the issues associated, especially with small businesses and their ability to actually weather this storm.
Speaker 14: (38:44)
Are you saying people should limit the number of people together, 10 people. If you go into a supermarket, and I’m sure you do, it’s like a cruise ship Petri dish. There’s hundreds of people in there, because that’s really one of the only places people can go and have to go. So is there any plan in your mind that would ultimately limit how this happens? Because now everyone’s home, but the only places they can go, these really limited places. And you go in and it just looks like there’s hundreds of people.
Charlie Baker: (39:15)
We are working with the Attorney General’s office and some of the folks at the command center to create guidance for grocery stores, with respect to distancing. Many of them have actually already implemented their own proposals with respect to this. Others haven’t. We believe everybody should be playing by a set of rules with respect to distancing there, absolutely. Can I just come back to one final comment on your question about age data?
Charlie Baker: (39:46)
There’s no question that people over the age of 60, 70, folks with preexisting conditions, are far more at risk than everybody else. But the other thing that is eminently clear, if you just look at the practical reality of other people who have contracted this disease who don’t fall into those categories, is there’s a very wide spread in the impact it has on people. For some people, as we’ve talked about, primarily kids, there doesn’t seem to be that big of a medical issue at all. They are contagious, but generally speaking, they don’t get that sick. I have no idea why, but I’m sure at some point researchers will figure that out.
Charlie Baker: (40:32)
But when you get into people between the ages of 20 and 60, the variability with respect to how this is going to play out for them varies dramatically. And even if you’re a young person who thinks this isn’t going to be a problem for you, the two things I would say are: Number one, you probably have parents or grandparents for whom this could be an enormous problem. And you should be considering that when you consider all the issues we’ve talked about with respect to distancing and hygiene and all the rest.
Charlie Baker: (41:08)
And the second is just because you may not feel it or even know if you have it, you can in fact, and in many cases might be, a carrier and you could deliver it to somebody you really care about. And it could cause tremendous difficulty and potential mortality for them. This is not something to quibble about if you’re young, just because you’re young. I think posting data on the fact that there’s a lot of people all the way up and down that age stack, from age 20 to over 70, is an important way for us to deliver that message.
Speaker 15: (41:45)
Hey governor, really quick just on the state’s unemployment system. Could you give an update where that is, is it overwhelmed [inaudible 00:41:59]hear a lot of people say, you get waiting for checks [inaudible 00:41:59] do you know how many people [inaudible 00:42:00]?
Charlie Baker: (42:00)
I don’t know the answers. I’m not going to give you hard answers to any of that stuff, because a lot of it’s still in process. What I will say is this. If we had not gone to the cloud a couple of years ago, the unemployment system in Massachusets would have crashed. Period. Just given the amount of volume and the amount of traffic that’s moving through that system.
Charlie Baker: (42:19)
The second is, they have done a terrific job in many cases working remotely and establishing remote call centers and all the rest, and offering town halls to people, many of whom have called in and engaged in conversation that way, and they have processed thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of applications. Remember, even if you process an application, it will probably take a few days, not a long time, but a few days to actually get paid. But we’ll probably have a pretty decent sized update about … the end of the month is typically when most of this data comes out, and my guess is sometime around the end of the month we’ll put something out on this.
Charlie Baker: (43:00)
But those folks, in my opinion, have done a very good job under very difficult circumstances, both on our end in terms of standing something up that could work remotely and dealing with an unprecedented level of activity and volume to move tens of thousands of people through the system pretty rapidly.
Charlie Baker: (43:24)