Apr 29, 2020

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 29

Charlie Baker Briefing Apr 28
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsMassachusetts Governor Charlie Baker COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 29

Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker’s coronavirus press conference on April 29. Baker said Massachusetts has yet to see a downward trend in COVID-19 cases.

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Charlie Baker: (00:00)
How you doing? so good afternoon. Today we’re going to provide an update on testing hospitalizations and PPE distribution. I also want to share some updates on the traditional unemployment system and the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that launched here last week. With respect to testing, yesterday’s report recorded 9,613 tests conducted in Massachusetts and the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases came in at 1,840 that’s about 19% of the tests conducted, tested positive. We obviously continue to watch that as well as the hospitalization rate data and the hospital capacity data very carefully. As of April 28th there were 3,875 patients hospitalized statewide for COVID-19 that’s a small decrease over Monday. Overall, our hospitals have had roughly this many covert positive patients in their facilities for the past 14 days. That’s why I said hospitalizations around COVID-19 patients have been flat, which is better than the sharp spike, but it’s not falling at a consistent rate either.

Charlie Baker: (01:20)
Currently about 7% of those who test positive require hospitalization statewide. Hospitalization rates have actually also remained relatively stable ranging in the seven to 10% range for the past several days. What this means is that people who test positive for COVID only a small number gets sick enough to need to go to the hospital that’s certainly the good news. Massachusetts hospitals, as I think most people know, significantly increased their bed capacity and now have over 18,200 beds available across the state, including the temporary field hospitals.

Charlie Baker: (01:58)
54% of those beds remain available for patients, but I do want to say again that as we talk daily with our colleagues in the hospital community, they have seen an increase in people going to the hospital, going to the ED for reasons that are not related to COVID. This continues to be important. As we’ve said before, a big part of what we did here in Massachusetts to increase capacity and prepare for the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations was to work with the hospital community to make sure they would be able to continue to serve people who needed it that weren’t related to COVID-19. The two other points I’ll make, number one is that people have embraced in many cases on both the clinical side and on the patient side, tele-health which we made available under an emergency order here in Massachusetts back in March.

Charlie Baker: (02:50)
Conversations with folks both on the provider side and on the insurance side have proven that in fact people do appreciate this benefit. They chase it and they do use it and there’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction among both clinicians who are using it and patients and I would urge people to continue to reach out to their clinicians either by phone or video chat or whatever the appropriate mechanism is if you feel like you need to talk to your doctor. And of course we always want people if they feel ill, to make sure that they don’t put off necessary healthcare. It’s important that people recognize and understand that the system is there for them. When we had three hospital CEOs here last week to talk about this issue, the folks from Bay State Medical said they had 150 COVID patients at that time and they had 400 people in the hospital for other reasons and other issues and they also had available capacity to serve others if it became necessary.

Charlie Baker: (03:51)
It’s very important that people recognize and understand that the healthcare system is there for them and will be there for them as we work our way through this. With respect to PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, we’ve now just distributed over 6.8 million pieces. That includes mass gloves, gowns, and ventilators, which have been distributed to healthcare organizations, healthcare workers, first responders, nursing home employees and others, and we continue to aggressively pursue all supply chain avenues available. And yesterday as you all know, we extended the closure order around nonessential businesses until May 18th which was of course we believe a necessary step to push back against the virus and protect our healthcare system recognizing that we have not yet seen the downward trend that virtually every analyst, public health expert, federal official and CDC official has said is a critical part of making the decision to move ahead and reopen.

Charlie Baker: (04:56)
That’s also by the way, one of the major criteria that virtually every state is using when they make these decisions and most other countries and provinces have used as well. We also launched, as we said yesterday, our reopening advisory board, which has focused on planning for that safe and responsible return to a new normal and the economic recovery that we will all work hard to deliver on after that. And as we said yesterday, that group is co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and by Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Mike Kennealy. They hit the ground running and held their first meeting, it was a virtual meeting yesterday and their plan will continue to develop over the course of the next several weeks, but the goal here is to develop guidelines for businesses to start a phased in approach to reopening safely.

Charlie Baker: (05:45)
The decision on when we’ll be ready to start implementing this plan, it will be dictated however by the public health data and the hospitalization data and the other key elements that many others are pursuing and informing their decisions with not just here in Massachusetts but across the country and across the world. We are still, as we said before, at the plateau with respect to the surge and as your governor, we are always going to put Massachusetts first. We’ll be ready to move on from this stage of our lives, but not until we actually see the data that demonstrates that it can be done and done appropriately. Moving too quickly runs the real risk of creating another outbreak which will put people out of work, overwhelm our healthcare system and put us right back in the public health crisis that we have all worked so hard to get out of. When we take a step forward, we don’t want to take two steps back.

Charlie Baker: (06:40)
As the advisory board continues to meet, we’ll obviously update you on their progress, but in the meantime there’s still a lot of people out of work who need help. Our administration continues to work hard to get people in the unemployment benefits that they need to help their families through these difficult times. And in just a few short weeks, we created and grew an enormous infrastructure to help people who are suddenly out of work through no fault of their own. That’s been done both through the traditional Unemployment Assistance program and the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that was created by the CARES Act. Today we have an update on both. First, with respect to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, this program you may recall was created to help workers who don’t fit into a traditional category that would make them eligible for traditional unemployment benefits. That includes people like independent contractors, the self-employed and other workers who participate in the so called gig economy.

Charlie Baker: (07:38)
The federal government enacted the PUA program with the passage of the CARES Act, but left it to the States to implement the program. Our team worked incredibly hard over a very short period of time to stand up what was basically a brand new platform to serve a population for which we didn’t know very much about how much they made, who they work for and didn’t have a running tally on what they were being paid week by week, which you typically get through the traditional unemployment system. Massachusetts became one of the first States to successfully launch this program and start paying claims. So far the system is seen well over 150,000 applications and as of today has paid out nearly half a billion dollars in benefits to the people who’ve applied. These benefits include the extra $600 a week that was part of another federal CARES Act benefit which we implemented.

Charlie Baker: (08:33)
The PUA program also has a robust customer service component including a call center and an online chat bot that makes it possible for people through to communicate through common issues on the application process and to actually learn from that and make adjustments to how the system works going forward. In just over a week, that PUA call center has connected with nearly 80,000 constituents over the phone and the online help tool has helped resolve over 200,000 individual issues that people had when they were applying for benefits.

Charlie Baker: (09:07)
The successful launch of this program is another big step as we continue our work to help make sure that those who are struggling with the loss of a job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the decisions that have been made since then get the help that they are eligible for and entitled to. And will continue to pay out benefits for workers who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment through this PUA program. People who think they make qualify can learn more about it at www.mass.gov/PUA. I also want to provide an update on the traditional unemployment system. Last week’s numbers indicated that over 650,000 people that applied for traditional unemployment, since this crisis began, the department of Unemployment Assistance has been paying benefits to an unprecedented number of people as well. As of last week, the state is paying benefits to over 400,000 people.

Charlie Baker: (10:02)
Managing this volume of claims and applicants, which literally is about 10 or 15 times as high as it’s ever been before on the new claim side has required DUA to exponentially expand their operations, and they’ve risen to the occasion. In March, DUA had a 50-person call center today. They have 1,200 people working in a call center that operates remotely to help people work their way through the application process. That number includes nearly 60 city of Boston employees who are helping out with the call center as part of a partnership with city hall. We’re very grateful to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and the city for this support, including the employees who are now working on Spanish language customer service operations. The customer service component of the traditional unemployment system also includes our daily Virtual Town Halls, which help people through common issues on the application. To date, these have been attended by over 200,000 constituents with town halls available in both English and Spanish. The Department of Unemployment Assistance is going to continue to work overtime to help people with both of these unemployment programs, and there’s no doubt there are challenges, but they are doing everything they possibly can to make sure that we meet them. There’s much more to do, and we’ll keep at it because making sure workers get the benefits they’re entitled to is a critical part of how we deal with the economic, the very real economic impact of COVID-19.

Charlie Baker: (11:35)
The last several weeks, I think as we all know, have been challenging for everyone, and there are probably still some hard days ahead as we get through this particular surge, but in the midst of all that hardship, we have been making progress that’s helping us get through this pandemic so that we can return to what we would call a new normal. As I mentioned before, the Reopening Advisory Board will support our local economies to come up with an ensemble of sensible strategies and parameters for stores, businesses, and other operations so that they can safely reopen when the data permits us to do so.

Charlie Baker: (12:09)
We’ve also made a lot of progress on testing and tracing. When we first started testing, we were testing less than a thousand people a day. Now we’re reporting an average of about 8 to 10,000 tests a day to better understand the infection rates associated with the virus, and our contact tracing program, which was the first in the nation to launch, has helped slow the spread of COVID- 19 and helps people make thoughtful decisions about when, where, and how to live out their time in isolation and to make sure we get in touch with their close contacts.

Charlie Baker: (12:41)
Hospitals have stepped up to expand capacity to rethink their daily operations to care for COVID-19 patients while also attending to the ongoing healthcare needs of others, and because of this, we’ve been able to meet the demands of the surge, something that in many other countries was a monstrous struggle with some really unfortunate consequences.

Charlie Baker: (13:05)
Our frontline health workers obviously have totally stepped up to the plate on behalf of all of us, as have our first responders, our transportation employees, public transportation employees, grocery store workers, and so many other essential workers who stood up time and time again to make it possible for the rest of us to continue to live through our daily lives. Most importantly, the people of the Commonwealth have done a terrific job of staying at home, of socially distancing, of maintaining good hygiene, and doing all of the things we need to do to make sure that we continue to bend the trend and stop the spread. I want to thank you for all you’re doing. We’re in this together, and we are quite sure that because of all your hard work there are better days ahead. Secretary Sudders.

Secretary Sudders: (14:00)
Thank you, Governor, Lieutenant Governor. Good afternoon. Just a couple of quick updates from the Command Center. As you know, we continue to expand the amount of information and types of data we collect and provide publicly, including refinements to our daily dashboard, which now includes new visuals, trends, and situational updates. We check with other states to see what they publish on their data dashboards as well, and ours is among the most comprehensive.

Secretary Sudders: (14:27)
As part of our commitment to continuous improvement and data development, we are releasing the DPH underlying data files used that make up the daily dashboard posted each afternoon. We’re providing these files which contain de-identified data in direct response to requests for that level of data by public health researchers, the media, and others. Starting today, we will post a zip file with this data online alongside the daily dashboard. Since we are a data-driven Command Center, just a few other data points. The Massachusetts 211 team continued to answer calls from the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This past Friday, six weeks to the day we launched this effort, we reached a new milestone, answering 50,000 calls providing referrals and resources. As of today, we’re up to nearly 54,000 calls answered. Since we launched our Nursing Home Family Resource Line three and a half weeks ago, they’ve answered nearly 4,600 calls. Since we launched the texting app, more than 235,000 individuals have enrolled to get the daily text updates sent to their phones and a system that is also available in Spanish, which has now slightly more than 1,200 users. Thank you. Governor?

Speaker 2: (15:54)

Speaker 3: (15:54)
Governor, CDC believes the COVID-19 toll is under-counted in several states, including Massachusetts. Do you believe that, and is Massachusetts doing anything to get a more accurate number?

Charlie Baker: (16:06)
I think most people believe that COVID-19 death rates are probably under-counted because it was here, and it was… well, it was in a lot of places before people truly understood and appreciated what it was, and people have gone back and started to do some work to try and figure out if there are cases where people presented with what would have been deemed as COVID-19 type symptoms and possibly were categorized in some other way-

Speaker 3: (16:37)
What kind of-

Charlie Baker: (16:37)
… but generally speaking, once we were aware of the presence of the disease, we test pretty much everybody.

Speaker 3: (16:44)
What kind of work is being done to ensure-

Charlie Baker: (16:47)
Most of it’s being done through the coroner’s office in conjunction with the chief medical examiner.

Speaker 4: (16:52)
Governor, as the weather improves [inaudible 00:16:54] from people to get outside. Do you think it might be safe? I’ve heard from some of the golf industry now saying… and yes, I am a golfer… that that’s the ultimate social distancing sport. New York changed course on that. Any thought to reopening something like that that might be good for people to get out and [inaudible 00:17:16].

Charlie Baker: (17:18)
We’ve always talked about making sure that people do get out. It’s one of the reasons we issued an advisory in the first place when it came to stay-at-home and not an order because we wanted people to recognize and understand that visiting a park, taking a walk, going for a run, those were all perfectly appropriate things to do, and in fact, we wanted people to do that. I think some folks in a number of states have actually opened up golf courses for walking, which is also an interesting idea, make it possible for a lot of people to socially distance at a place where there’s a tremendous amount of open space. I think, generally, I’m going to try to leave most of the decisions about safe openings to the work that’s being done by the Reopening Advisory Board, and certainly, that’s something that I know they’ll hear from people about as well as other things along the way.

Speaker 5: (18:09)
Governor, have you seen if any…

Speaker 6: (18:10)
[crosstalk 00:18:10] several cities and…

Speaker 5: (18:14)
Sorry. Have you spoke with municipal leaders about maybe closing some streets to allow more foot traffic so that people in the cities or perhaps suburbs can walk, but at a… farther apart?

Charlie Baker: (18:25)
Yeah. There are a number of places where we’ve talked to local officials about doing walkable streets. I can think of at least two examples. One is along the Revere Beach in Revere, that parkway. The boulevard there that runs right along the beach is basically walkable at this point and has been for the past several weeks. That’s the sort of thing though that we would only do in conjunction with local officials.

Charlie Baker: (18:56)
There are a number of state roads, obviously, that run through cities and towns and represent important surface roads there, but we would not engage in a discussion about creating a walkway without discussing that first with local officials. I think in some cases it’s the locals have raised it with us. There was another one in Cambridge where it was the Memorial Drive side of the Charles River, which was open for walking on particular days. We did the same thing with some DPW parkways I think in Boston and Quincy? The answer’s yes, but obviously, it needs to be done in conjunction with our colleagues and local.

Speaker 6: (19:39)
Governor, several communities are starting to announce hefty fines for not wearing masks when they’re out. Is that something that you support, and also, do you think it’s time for a mandated mask requirement for the state?

Charlie Baker: (19:54)
We have an advisory out with respect to masks or face coverings that basically is a statewide advisory that if you-

Charlie Baker: (20:03)
… can’t socially distance, if you’re going to be in some place where you can’t socially distance, we urge you to wear a face covering or mask. And that’s to protect you from others but also to protect others from you. I can’t say this enough. There’s a lot of evidence at this point that many of the people who contract COVID-19 don’t show symptoms but are, in fact, carriers and are contagious. And that’s one of the most important reasons why it’s important for people to wear face coverings or masks if they can’t socially distance.

Charlie Baker: (20:40)
I think, in many respects from our point of view, locals are always going to make decisions they think are in their best interests. There are some communities that have put a requirement in place, if you want to go to a grocery store for example, that you need to wear a face covering or a mask because they believe that’s a place where people are going to have trouble socially distancing, even with the changes we’ve put in place with respect to occupancy and some other issues there. I think, as we go forward, we’re all going to be, in many cases and many circumstances, expected to wear a face covering or a mask, especially if, as we start to reopen the economy things… public transportation, for example, is one place where we’ve been tracking what people are doing in a lot of other countries with regard to public transportation. And I just think this is going to be a big part of the dialogue that the Lieutenant Governor and Secretary Kennealy are going to be working through.

Speaker 7: (21:39)
But is a $300 fine appropriate in your opinion?

Charlie Baker: (21:42)
I guess what I would say is that’s a good example of something we would leave up to the locals. There are certain things I think we can do and we should enforce. Right? There are other things that I really do believe should be, and I think I said this yesterday, if locals want to do something that doesn’t actually stand in direct conflict with either state law or state policy, they do have a fair amount of latitude. And that’s appropriate because they’re going to see more of what’s going on in the ground in their communities than we are.

Speaker 7: (22:09)
We do have nice weather today. And we are expecting to have pretty nice weather this weekend. Do you have concerns about that?

Charlie Baker: (22:17)
We’ve had nice weather a number of times over the course of the past month and a half or so. And I would argue that, based on the video footage I’ve seen, the drone footage I’ve seen, the data we’ve seen from the Google mobility work that’s been done to track people’s phones, people around here have been really good for the most part about understanding and appreciating why distancing is so important. And I think it has a lot to do with why we didn’t have the big spike that people were worried about and why we’re now dealing with sort of this slow run up and this slow plateau on our healthcare utilization.

Speaker 8: (22:58)
Governor, testing is up, though it’s not up where it should be. Is there a bottleneck somewhere between where the tests are being done and the labs? And what does government need to be able to get the appropriate testing done?

Charlie Baker: (23:15)
So, we’re top. If you look at the top ten states in terms of both cases and tests, we’re number two, I think, behind New York in per capita testing. But I’ve said many times, we need to do more and we’ll continue to do more. And I go back to the fact that 30 days ago, 35 days ago we were doing about 1,500 tests a day, and now we’re doing 10,000 tests a day. We can do more and we will because we’ll need to.

Charlie Baker: (23:46)
But the biggest single, there are two big factors associated with testing. And I said many times as well that we believe this is a classic example of where the federal government has a big role to play, testing and treatment. They can make an enormous difference. And I was glad to see resources in the last version of the fourth COVID-19 response bill that put some pretty serious money into the FDA and the CDC to expand their capacity to support all of us with regard to testing.

Charlie Baker: (24:20)
But the single biggest issue around testing is not processing capacity. The biggest issue is around specimen collection. And this is a supply chain issue, which is why I think part of the solution has to come from the feds. The vast majority of the tests that are done require to collect the specimen, require a particular kind of swab, a nasal swab that anybody who’s seen anybody get tested is familiar with, and then a set of reagents that basically serve as the transport media when you take the test to the facility that actually processes the results of the test. There’s a lot of processing capacity. The big issue is around the swabs, and the transport media, and the reagents.

Charlie Baker: (25:12)
And again, there are people who are working this one, but this is one where the federal government has the ability to put their foot on the accelerator. And I’ve been heartened by the fact that the last two or three conversations that we’ve been on with, when I say we, I mean governors, have been on with people in the administration, there’s been a lot of focus on enhancing the country’s ability to test and the federal government’s ability to support states with respect to what they believe is the level of testing they need to do. And I fully expect that it’s going to ramp up.

Speaker 8: (25:45)
As you look at the members on the advisory board, do you think it’s broad enough, because I noticed like the insurance company is not represented, big sports, Red Sox, for instance.

Charlie Baker: (25:57)

Speaker 8: (25:59)
Is it going to be a wide enough swath there to cover?

Charlie Baker: (26:02)
So, this was the subject of a lot of discussion between the Lieutenant Governor, myself and secretary Kennealy. And there’s two ways you can put together a group like this. One is you could try to put somebody who represents every single point of view that’s out there, or every vertical, or every business operation, or every employer, or every labor union. I mean, and that would have 50 people on it or more. Okay?

Charlie Baker: (26:29)
Or you can put together a group of, I think, everybody would agree, smart, talented people who represent a variety of employers, municipal government, state government, healthcare, public health. And basically say to all those other parties, this group is available to you. And what we would like you to do is get together with your colleagues, if you’re in insurance, if you’re in banking, if you’re in retail, if you’re in hotel, if you’re in restaurant, whatever your particular space is, figure out what you think the right, safe operating model would be for you. Unions can do the same thing with regard to what they think the issues are in their particular industries that they work in. And then, come see these folks and pitch your proposals and work through them with this group to come up with a set of guidelines and standards that these verticals would each develop together so that they would be speaking with one voice instead of 75.

Charlie Baker: (27:37)
And that seemed to us to be a much better way to try to get focus on this and to try to get a sense of sort of consensus amongst all these different organizations by telling them to sort of wrangle themselves. And then, come see these folks and tell them what they think would work. And then, run it through the public health folks and some of the healthcare folks and others and produce a set of guidelines and recommendations that come out of that. Frankly, I think that puts the ball in the court of all these different employers to talk to one another, work together, and come up with a set of proposals and ideas that they can then bring to the advisory board.

Speaker 9: (28:21)
Does each member have a certain segment, in other words, would we funnel certain people to a certain advisory board member? How do you know where to put them?

Charlie Baker: (28:30)
I think you can just go straight to the advisory board itself.

Speaker 10: (28:33)
Yeah. Also, I think it’s naturally happening. So, for instance, if you are a restaurant owner, you would navigate to the representative on the board that has that experience level. We also have a university president for higher education. So, she is communicating with her colleagues around what that could look like for campuses across our commonwealth.

Speaker 10: (29:00)
And there are multiple ways that the board is going to consider what would be a safe reopening for an enterprise or an organization. They can submit to us what they think they can incorporate into their workplace to make it safe for their employees, but also for the people they do business with. And we can review that. We only have so many hours between now and May 18th. And the interviews that we do are really the ones that we have a lot of questions around how it will be implemented. And there are some that are easier to think about organizing a safety plan with. So, there’s multiple ways that people can engage with the advisory board, both in person through a scheduled opportunity, but also to submit in writing to the website at HED, that’s Housing and Economic Development. Their ideas around what they can incorporate into their workplace in terms of safety protocols.

Speaker 11: (30:03)
Do you have a sense yet? Do you have a sense yet? What are we-

Speaker 12: (30:08)
Our first meeting was great. Had full engagement from the members of the board. They also brought in some assistance and resource with them and we really focused on what the public health principles are to trigger a reopening, and also, that checklist that you’re probably all familiar with in terms of the basic things that will be needed in workplaces; safe distancing in a workplace, hygiene and sanitization, and also, the kinds of gear that might be needed both for workers and for the public facing part of the enterprise. And that checklist is being vetted by the industries that are coming in contact with the advisory board to give us feedback, whether these kinds of things can easily be adopted within workplaces. And then we can confirm that it would be a safe opportunity to reopen in the Commonwealth. So there’s a lot of give and take with the advisory board and that’s how we have designed this.

Speaker 18: (31:15)
Governor, are you at all worried-

Charlie Baker: (31:16)
Can I say one other thing about this? Part of the reason we would like these different employer groups to talk to each other before they talk to the advisory board, is to deal with their own disagreements around how this should work. Okay? I mean, one of the things about creating one of those big ones, is everybody comes into it through a particular funnel or a particular channel and makes a particular set of recommendations. And then you discover you have, and we’ve had this happen with some of the really big ones, where you will have literally eight or 10 players who are all basically in the same industry, who are all coming at whatever it is you’re working on from a completely different point of view. And then it’s up to us to figure out some way to wrangle them all to a set of proposals that they can all agree on.

Charlie Baker: (32:07)
I think for time’s purposes more than anything else, we want those folks to simultaneously be talking to each other so that they can reach some general agreement about what they think would be the best way, or the two or three best ways, that they can think of to operate safely and then come talk to these folks. That’s the only way we could think of that you could really create dialogue between and among people within particular business models that would get them to some place where they could then speak with one voice to the advisory board and do it in a relatively short period of time.

Speaker 18: (32:48)
Governor, do you think that what the president said yesterday about sanctuary cities could threaten Massachusetts at all? He said that he may tie further aid to what he was saying, democratically controlled states would still [inaudible 00:33:04]?

Charlie Baker: (33:03)
Yeah. I mean, I spent some time looking through the legislation. And the legislation makes pretty clear that the aid that’s supposed to go to states is supposed to be driven in large part by the impact COVID-19 has had on those States. So in theory, you’d end up seeing a scenario where New York would obviously do better than most, because COVID-19 has hit New York a heck of a lot harder than it’s hit a lot of other people. And I would hope that that kind of approach or an approach that’s driven by the quality of the applications that are submitted by States with respect to testing and treatments, would drive the process.

Charlie Baker: (33:48)
I don’t think it should be driven by something that in the grand scheme of things really doesn’t have much of a relationship to the question at hand here, which is a desire on Congress’s part, and I assume on the administration’s part, to help states and localities and tribes and others rebuild or create for the first time the infrastructure that they’re going to need to trace, track, test and monitor COVID-19 going forward.

Charlie Baker: (34:21)
I will make clear to people that I think that’s the wrong way to do this, but based on a lot of what was in the legislation, that doesn’t seem consistent with the way the law was written.

Speaker 13: (34:30)
Governor, there is that pastor in Worcester who was saying he will hold services again tonight. What concerns do you have and is there anything the State can do to stop that?

Charlie Baker: (34:41)
Well, we’ve said before that that’s exactly this sort of thing where we establish the criteria, and we believe it’s most appropriately dealt with at the local level. And I know the City of Worcester has concerns about this, appropriate concerns, and I anticipate that they’ll be the ones who will deal with the church on that.

Charlie Baker: (35:04)
Worcester is being used. BCEC’s being used. I don’t think there’s anybody in Lowell or the one on the Cape. And that’s partly because in both those areas there have been alternative sites available, some of which are ones that we stood up with some of the folks in the healthcare community and some of which has to do with the fact that the hospital systems are doing a pretty good job of working with each other to balance out patients.

Charlie Baker: (35:35)
I mean, one of the things I’ve learned on these calls that we’ve been on in the morning, is there’s a lot of collaboration and cooperation going on between and among academic medical centers and community hospitals. Some of which actually are part of a system, but some of which are literally just doing this because think it’s the right thing to do, given the nature of what we’re all dealing with.

Charlie Baker: (36:01)
And as a result of that, they’ve been able to move people around to places that have more capacity, and that’s made it possible in some ways, to reduce what would have been the demand in certain parts of the state because the patients are landing. And they’re basically using an open bed, open capability strategy and they’re not really spending as much time as they might’ve historically worrying about whether or not you’re in their system or not in their system. Which is a really great example of the collaborative and cooperative spirit that the hospitals have brought to this exercise literally from day one.

Speaker 19: (36:45)
Governor in all this, have you been able to find any time to unplug from this and just kind of ground yourself? Everybody’s going stir crazy. How do you-

Charlie Baker: (36:51)
Yeah. We are, too. Look, I said this before, the lieutenant governor and I used to do 15 or 20 events a day, and the best part of the job was the being out and about part. And now, we spend most of our time on the phone, and whether it’s at home or here, that’s pretty much the only places we go. And I certainly haven’t found a way to unwind. I don’t, I mean, I know I speak for the secretary and for the LG and for a lot of other people, there’s just not a lot of room for unwinding at this point. It’s a long run.

Speaker 16: (37:42)
Governor, any update on the state’s COVID Relief Fund? The website says it’s at $23 million. Has that money started to be dispersed yet or when will it?

Charlie Baker: (37:51)
Actually, I don’t know the answer to that, but I will suggest to the people I know who do know the answer to that, that they should probably communicate that.

Speaker 20: (38:01)
Governor, [crosstalk 00:38:03] people who said they got their first $600 paycheck, but then didn’t get their second or third for a few weeks. Is that one of the kinks that the DOA is trying to work out, or is that something you’ve heard about being a concern for people who file for unemployment?

Charlie Baker: (38:15)
Is that on the traditional program side or on the other side?

Speaker 20: (38:18)

Charlie Baker: (38:20)
The answer is no. I haven’t heard that, but I’m sure if you give the woman to your right there some of the details, we can chase it down. Thanks everybody.

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