May 18, 2020
Governor Charlie Baker COVID-19 Briefing Transcript May 18 on Reopening Massachusetts
Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker announced a 4-phase plan on May 18 to reopen Massachusetts. He said beaches, parks, and others will be able to open May 25 in time for Memorial Day. Full transcript with updates here.
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Governor Charlie Baker: (00:12)
Good morning. I want to start today by recognizing the horrific toll that this virus has taken on so many people here in the Commonwealth. And I want to talk about who’s behind all the numbers that we discuss in this room every day. Nurses, doctors, and all the frontline medical workers, some sick and doing their job and isolated from their family. First responders, essential workers, DCF, social workers, MBTA bus and train drivers, and many, many other public servants who is always did what they had to do in order to serve us but in some cases suffered terrible loss as a result. Furloughed or laid off workers who despite coming in early, working the extra shifts, now by no fault of their own are left wondering when that job comes back.
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:11)
Everyone’s suffering under the fear of the unknown amid this pandemic. Everyone who sacrificed a wedding or major moment in life and went without holding their loved ones at the exact time they needed to be held the most. And everyone who lost a friend, a brother, a sister, a mom, or a dad, there are tens of thousands of you right now here in the Commonwealth who have either grieved or going through one of the hardest moments of your life. The toll this virus takes and continues to take on many of us is staggering. But the response, the fight, the millions of people who are doing what they have to do to push back has been brave and bigger. The retired medical workers who came back off the bench and straight into the COVID-19 ward. The friends and family members who help one another overcome the fear of the unknown, the parents and guardians who overnight became educators and are still putting in full days, working remotely and teaching their kids at home. There are so many examples of Massachusetts rising to this occasion and fighting back to list them all.
Governor Charlie Baker: (02:37)
Today, as we start the phased return to our new normal, we are going to ask people once again, to rise to the occasion as we continue to fight this virus. Our collective success depends on everyone, government, the private sector, and especially individuals playing their part to move us forward. Today, we lay out a roadmap to reopening Massachusetts while we continue to fight COVID-19. These two will be inseparable getting back to work and fighting COVID until there is a medical breakthrough with treatments or a vaccine. And we cannot move forward unless we commit to continuing to slow the spread. To achieve that goal, reopening while continuing to bring the fight every day, I tasked Lieutenant Governor, Karyn Polito to work with Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kenealy to bring together experts from across Massachusetts diverse economy. They listened and they learned from hundreds of points of view, local government leaders, nonprofits, labor leaders, and small and large employers to name just a few.
Governor Charlie Baker: (03:58)
The same time Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel consulted Massachusetts’ world-class healthcare leaders and together our administration developed this plan to move forward. We’ll progress through four phases, opening more sectors of the economy and activities only when the public health data indicate it’s appropriate to do so. Each phase will last at least three weeks, but may last longer. If the public health data doesn’t support moving forward. As I said earlier, COVID-19 has and will continue to take a toll here in Massachusetts. It remains up to all of us, government, the employer community, and most of all the rest of us as individuals to continue to fight back against the virus, because that is the way we move forward through these phases.
Governor Charlie Baker: (04:58)
The report lays out not only which sectors of the economy are slated to open and when, but it lays out how businesses reopen while fighting the spread. And most importantly, this report lays out what individuals must do to enable us all to move through these phases. This effort will hinge fundamentally on personal responsibility. As everyone knows, we’re not helpless in this fight. We all have roles to play and you have proven time and time again that you can play them.
Governor Charlie Baker: (05:33)
We continue to ask everyone to do four things. Cover your nose and mouth when you can’t distance yourself. The science is clear, simple face coverings, prevent the spread of this disease incredibly effectively. Wash your hands and wash surfaces often. This one needs no explanation. Keep your distance. Again, we all know this one by now, but it’s as important today as it’s ever been and more so as we start this reopening process. The more we stay about six feet apart from one another, whenever possible, the more we stop the spread and lastly, stay vigilant for symptoms and stay home if you think you’re sick. We all know this one by now, too. Alone, each of these four things can be highly effective at slowing and killing the virus. We have the scientific research now, it makes that much clear. But together these four things are exponentially more powerful.
Governor Charlie Baker: (06:39)
And we are asking the private sector to support their employees, to be creative, to support working remotely whenever possible, and to follow the guidance that our team developed to prevent further spread. Sticking with these critical tasks is everyone’s responsibility and how well we do them will dictate how well we opened Massachusetts. State and local governments will continue to step up testing capabilities alongside our community tracing program. Testing and tracing will remain integral to getting ahead of this virus, containing it, and a critical part of our ability to keep the economy moving. As I said before, we have all been doing our jobs to fight back. And as a result, positive case rates are moving in the right direction and hospitalizations are down. The public health metrics that guide this process mean it’s possible to reopening manufacturing facilities and construction sites effective today. And we’re permitting more sectors of our economy to open effective May 25th and others on June 1st, under phase one.
Governor Charlie Baker: (07:53)
Lieutenant Governor Polito will talk more about how this report lays out new rules of the road for each of those industries and specifically the things businesses need and must do in order to reopen while effectively fighting the virus. These first steps, manufacturing and construction, provided these businesses follow the guidance we developed have limited face to face and customer interactions. And many similar operations open now under the essential order have been responsibly balancing operating and fighting the virus as well. Starting a week from now, we’re permitting office space to reopen to 25% of its capacity, except in Boston. On May 25th, retail establishments may also want for curbside service. And some personal services such as barbershops and hair salons may reopen provided they follow the new rules in this report. Places of worship will also be permitted to open with guidelines in place, starting today. A number of outdoor facilities and recreation activities may also resume starting a week from now, as well as in accordance with those new rules. And our healthcare facilities will be permitted to begin seeing more patients on an agreed upon schedule over the next two weeks.
Governor Charlie Baker: (09:19)
I want to make clear that the reopening advisory board and the team made every effort to be as clear and direct as possible when it comes to the new requirements these businesses must follow. But this is something no one’s ever done before, shutter, then reopen everything from a beach front to a factory floor, with standards in place to slow the spread of a highly contagious virus. So I ask everyone to keep this in mind, this guidance asks people to change behaviors and it changes the way some of our favorite places look and feel. This is not permanent.
Governor Charlie Baker: (09:59)
At some point, there will be treatments and ultimately a vaccine, but for the foreseeable future, everyone needs to continue to do the right things, to bring the fight to the virus so that we can continue to move forward today. The Department of Public Health also updated the stay at home advisory to reflect this stage of the reopening process, the new safer at home advisory instructs everyone to stay home unless they’re headed to a newly open facility or activity. And it also advises those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions to stay home, except for absolutely necessary trips for things like healthcare and groceries.
Governor Charlie Baker: (10:40)
This new advisory is important. As we enter this phaseD reopening, it’s important to remember that everyone is safer at home. The virus will be with us throughout the reopening process and everyone’s required to cover their nose and mouth if you can’t maintain six feet of distance from those around you. Everyone has a responsibility to wash their hands, distance themselves from others and be vigilant about symptoms so that you can stay home and you should stay home if you feel sick. How well everyone does these things will determine how well we move into later phases.
Governor Charlie Baker: (11:22)
You’ve all heard me say that we can’t afford to take one step forward only before us to take two steps back. I know we’d all prefer to believe that the virus is less serious now and that it’s behind us. It’s nice outside. I understand the weeks feel like months. I think we understand all of this. Collectively, we have flattened the curve and avoided the spike in cases that would have broken our healthcare system. But if we don’t keep up the fight and don’t do the things that we all know we have to do and know we can do, we run the risk of creating a second spike in the fall.
Governor Charlie Baker: (12:06)
We’ve asked a lot of the people of the Commonwealth since this all began and thankfully millions and millions of people have answered the call and played their part. Once again, people need to be vigilant. They need to be careful, and they need to understand the role that they can play themselves. As we continue to bring this fight to the virus, it’s how we move forward together. With that, I’ll turn it over to the Lieutenant Governor.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (12:40)
Thank you, Governor and good morning, I’d like to start by first acknowledging the members of the reopening advisory board. On behalf of our entire administration, we are incredibly grateful to all of you and your work. This plan required a tremendous amount of thought, planning, and preparation by the board. In the many hours and days that we worked together our process was deep and diverse and consisted of a collective group of voices that engaged in a productive dialogue to lay out this plan. This board consisted of an extremely talented group of dedicated people. And as we met with associations and businesses and residents, the members of the board were engaged and compassionate and ensured a variety of voices were listened to and were at that table. Our work also would not have been possible without an extensive municipal engagement from officials at the local level, all across our Commonwealth, we are thankful for the direct involvement of the many mayors and town managers who advised us and worked with us.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (14:06)
And while we have made clear that the public health data and guidance will dictate the timeline of moving into new phases, it is important that we continue to listen to and support our businesses across this Commonwealth. Specifically, we have established a new restaurant accommodations and tourism work group consisting of industry representatives and municipal leaders that we will continue to have discussions with to help us determine the industry specific protocols for meeting our safety standards. This group will help us shape the guidance that will allow these industries to reopen. And when the data allows for it, they will do so safely and within mind of the need to continue to fight the virus. As the Governor said, we will continue to support the business community as they implement the mandatory workplace safety standards for reopening that we announced last week. Businesses operating to provide essential services will have until May 25th to comply with these mandatory safety standards. Businesses, newly opening in phase one must comply with these standards before they open. And as we reopen and keep fighting COVID-19, we are providing three areas of guidance for each sector, industry, and business to follow.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (15:41)
You’ve heard us talk about the general social guidance covering washing, and distancing. And for businesses, the mandatory safety standards for their workplace and the sector specific safety protocols and best practices about how to meet those standards, the sector specific guidance and recommended best practices aim to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in specific industries so that each industry safely reopens. Businesses are expected to implement these protocols. And in addition to the general mandatory workplace standards, so the standards and the protocols and the best practices are offered to help businesses comply. Starting today, the materials for the businesses and sectors eligible to open in the first phase are included on the reopen Massachusetts website at mass.gov/reopening. Each sector will have access to a sector circular. It’s a document, a resource which will include specific mandatory safety standards and recommended best practices and social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing, and operations, and cleaning and disinfect-
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (17:03)
… Staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting for each sector. They will also have access to a sector checklist included in the circular and developed to serve as a guidance for employers and businesses of all sizes as they adjust their operations. The administration will require businesses to self-certify. And what that means is that businesses must develop a COVID-19 control plan, outlining how its workplace will implement the safety standards in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These required materials are located on the reopen Massachusetts website, and they include a COVID-19 control plan template. This is a draft. You do not need to reinvent the wheel. This is a place for you to start. You should use it. A compliance test station poster, demonstrating to your workforce and the public that you have incorporated these safety standards into your workplace, and are posted to show. And signs and posters describing the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning and disinfecting.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (18:19)
Again, businesses in phase one must complete these steps in order to open. And essential businesses that have been operating will be required to complete these steps by May 25th. These workplace safety standards will be jointly enforced by local boards of health, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Labor Standards. We will work together with our partners at the local level to move forward through this process. Most enforcement actions may come from a worker or a customer who might initiate a complaint, but the goal with enforcement is to educate and promote compliance. We want workplaces to be safer and to incorporate these standards into their places of operation. And working with cities and towns, we will support our businesses and give them the tools they need to succeed as they make adjustments and welcome back their workers. And as we continue to move forward towards a new normal, we’ll continue to post the guidance for sectors opening in later phases online and in advance.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (19:34)
So as businesses in this time of uncertainty can prepare and plan for when that time comes. Governor Baker outlined what we can expect to see in phases. And it’s important that we continue to each play our part and be cautious and careful as we together work to reopen so that we can move forward and not backwards. We will continue to follow the data to make determinations of gathering sizes, restrictions, and capacity limitations based upon the trends. And we know that many of our home grown businesses in every corner of our state are suffering. We want to get everyone back up and running when it’s appropriate to do so. Based on the public health metrics outlined today. And it bears repeating that Massachusetts has been one of the hardest hit states in our country, right behind New York and New Jersey. And we must be cautious and vigilant as we reopen.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (20:41)
And as I mentioned about planning and preparing our restaurant, accommodations and tourism work group convened this past weekend, and we will help them develop procedures for safe reopening. And campgrounds, and playgrounds, and community pools, athletic fields, and youth sports will resume operations in phase two with guidelines. We currently plan that phase three will allow for the opening of arts and entertainment, gyms, and other business activities. This will all push us toward phase four, a full resumption of activity, and what we’ve described as a new normal. If your business is listed in phase two or phase three, in order to start working on your reopening plans now, you can visit the website, the reopen Massachusetts website, to access the general workplace safety standards that all businesses are required to comply with. So you can get a headstart and look at those and start to think about how you will adjust your workplace.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (21:52)
Now, a couple of key components that transcend all of this are childcare and public transportation. In March, we stood up an emergency childcare system to support children of essential workers and vulnerable families, with extra virus mitigation protocols. We are incredibly grateful to those providers who have stepped forward in the midst of this crisis to provide these essential childcare services to children and families. Now, during phase one, the emergency childcare system we have already in place will be utilized to meet the needs of people with no alternative for care.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (22:35)
We are also encouraging families to continue to find any alternatives to group care, to help stem the spread of the virus. Now, currently only 35% of our emergency childcare capacity is occupied. And the system has capacity to serve more families, to provide care options, as more workers head back to work and sectors become active again. The system we established, as you may recall, has capacity per 10,000 children statewide. And we’re at 35% capacity today. As next steps, the Department of Early Education and Care and DPA are developing additional health and safety standards, which are being reviewed by Children’s Hospital to make sure when we’re ready to fully reopen childcare and camps, that we’re ready.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (23:34)
We’ll have more to say on that as we prepare for the future phases. Now on that same vein, we are aware that summer camps serve an important purpose. Not only for our children, but for our families. DPH is partnering with local boards of health to develop health guidelines, to be implemented in over 1,400 camps across our state to enable a safe reopening of those activities. Pending public health data, it is possible that camps could reopen in phase two with limitations and specific safety standards in line with CDC guide. That should be available in the next couple of weeks, the timelines and the guidelines that we apply. Now, on transit. We know how important public transportation is for the day-to-day lives of workers and families. The MBTA has been and will continue to implement measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the system.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (24:36)
We can not significantly reduce the risk of transmission across the system without the cooperation of customers and the employer community. Riders are required to wear face coverings and must make efforts to distance. Employers are encouraged to stagger schedules and implement work from home policies to reduce demand during rush hours. Moving forward, to mitigate risk while providing appropriate levels of service, the MBTA will do the following. In phase one, support the transit needs of essential workers and those returning to the workplace while continuing with limited service to maximize employee and rider safety.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (25:25)
Ramp up to a modified version of full service by phase three. The T will also frequently disinfect, and clean vehicles and stations, and provide protective supplies to workers. The T will also actively communicate public health guidance and schedule adjustments in station online and over social media. Now in close, before I turn it over to Secretary Kennealy just want to say that today, as we move forward in implementing this plan for reopening, I am confident in everyone’s ability to play their role. Individuals and businesses, everyone must do their part.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (26:11)
Following through on the measures we are developing in the private sectors responsibility and individuals, everyone has to do their part. The next few weeks are really important to make sure, as the governor said, we are vigilant, we’re cautious and doing our part. And together with state and local government supporting businesses and helping them incorporate the workplace safety standards in each step of the way, the Commonwealth can stay ahead of this virus and safely and successfully reopen Massachusetts. And as we balance the shared goals of maintaining both public safety, as well as activating our economy, we are faced with a new challenge of living with the virus. Our roadmap provides us with a plan and a direction point to get started.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: (27:09)
The saying that tough times never last, tough people do, is never more appropriate than now. The people of Massachusetts are strong. We’re resilient. We’ve come through tough times before, and we will come through this tough time again. We will continue to fight this battle and we will get through this together. I now want to turn it over to Secretary Kennealy, but I wish to thank him and the HTD staff and the LG staff for amazing focus, your strength and leadership, for keeping us on task, for meeting this deadline. It’s been a real honor to work with you on this very, very important development of a plan. But more so, for helping to balance the safety and the needs of the business community of our Commonwealth. With that, Secretary Kennealy.
Mike Kennealy: (28:11)
Well, good morning. And thank you, Governor and Lieutenant governor, I feel honored as well. And our team’s really stepped up, didn’t they? In the last few months, we’ve dealt with a new economic reality in our state, in our country and around the world. And the many communities, businesses, and people that make up our economy have suffered. But we are confident today that we can work together to get up and running again. Now about three weeks ago, the governor announced the formation of the reopening advisory board, co-chaired by myself and the Lieutenant Governor. And made up of 17 leaders in healthcare, business and municipal government. We have spent the last three weeks meeting and collaborating with more than 75 business associations, labor unions, nonprofits, and community coalitions that collectively represent more than 112,000 businesses. And more than two million employees. We also considered more than 4,600 pieces of written feedback.
Mike Kennealy: (29:10)
We engage stakeholders and analyzed information in over 45 hours of Zoom meetings. And if you look at this list, I think it’s just an amazing list. We’re so grateful to all these folks who stepped forward to share their views. And this list truly does represent the strength and diversity of our state. And to each of my fellow board members, I just can’t thank you enough for your professionalism, your active engagement and your unwavering commitment throughout this process. Your input was invaluable to crafting this reopening plan. And we will continue to rely on your insights as we move through the four-phase reopening. And we’re so mindful always of the great sacrifices that businesses have made during this pandemic. As we reopen Massachusetts, we’ll look to our companies, large and small, to be partners in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces. And this commitment will be absolutely essential as we move through all four phases of reopening.
Mike Kennealy: (30:15)
And I want to highlight a few things in particular here. First and foremost, if businesses are able, we strongly encourage you to have your employees continue to work from home. And this is incredibly important to the reopening plan, because reducing the number of employees in the workplace reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission and will help reduce the number of employees that need to utilize public transit and childcare. Secondly, if your business model does require employees to come back to a physical workplace, we encourage you to think about ways that you can stagger shifts. We also encourage you to give priority for workplace accommodations, to employees over the age of 65, as well as employees with underlying health conditions. And third, to reopen safely, it’ll be important for businesses to get the right supplies. Sanitation supplies, cleaning supplies, hygienic supplies. And we have two things to say in that regard. We’ve done two things to address those concerns.
Mike Kennealy: (31:21)
First, we have developed educational materials that will define how an employer should prepare their workspaces to reopen. And what products are appropriate for employees to protect themselves at work. For example, these materials will explain, and these will be on our website, will explain what can be used as a face covering, how to wear it safely, when gloves are necessary and which materials to use for disinfecting and sanitizing. And in our many discussions with industry groups and others, we felt the need for a lot more clarity on some of these matters. For example, medical grade face coverings are not necessary for workers in most industries. And should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders. The second way we tried to address this need for supplies is that we’ve launched a portal to connect Massachusetts businesses in need of supplies with manufacturers who are producing and selling these materials in the Commonwealth.
Mike Kennealy: (32:21)
And this portal does include the made in Massachusetts manufacturers that have pivoted to producing these supplies as part of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Emergency Response team. I think when the governor first announced, as he said, it was an inspiring effort. And it really is. It has been inspiring to watch now 430 companies from Massachusetts commit to repurpose their production lines to make this material. And 27 companies have gone all the way through the process and produced about three and a half million pieces of PPE to date. It’s been a terrific effort.
Mike Kennealy: (32:57)
So for our companies, we want to be partners in this reopening. So please purchase the supplies, implement safety measures, train your employees, protect your customers. For more information on our reopening advisory board and all these resources, go to mass.gov/reopening. And we look forward to working with you. Thank you. I think I’m now going to turn it over to Secretary Sudders. Yeah. All right. Always.
Marylou Sudders: (33:26)
Thank you. Secretary Kennealy, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Commissioner Burrell. Good morning. We are grateful for the exceptional effort from our healthcare system in response to the pandemic. From our hospital emergency departments, our intensive care units, to our community health centers, for responding to community needs, including testing, and contact tracing and everything else that a community health center does. Our healthcare system never shut down during the pandemic. In fact, they stepped. Telehealth-
Marylou Sudders: (34:02)
During the pandemic. In fact, they stepped up. Telehealth has reached thousands of Massachusetts residents to meet their physical and behavioral health care needs remotely. And we need for that to continue. As part of the governor’s reopening plan effective today, we are allowing high priority preventive services, including pediatric care, immunizations and chronic disease for high risk patients and urgent procedures or care that’s been deferred, but now at risk.
Marylou Sudders: (34:33)
Across the Commonwealth, our acute care hospital system has 30% availability for both ICU and medical surgical inpatient care. Acute care hospitals and federally qualified or hospital licensed community health centers who attest to meeting specific capacity and safety standards, such as having adequate PPE, workforce and patient screenings may expand their services. These services are intentional to meet the needs of high risk populations, including communities of color and our children. Expanded services include, as I said, high priority preventive services, including pediatric care, and urgent procedures that cannot be delivered remotely and would lead to high risk or significant worsening of the patient’s condition if deferred based upon the provider’s clinical judgment.
Marylou Sudders: (35:29)
Effective May 25th other healthcare providers who can attest to meeting specific capacity and safety standards will be allowed to provide a limited set of diagnostic and treatment procedures. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of continuing telehealth providers should continue to maximize it and provide services virtually wherever possible and appropriate. Individuals with non-emergent needs should call their healthcare provider to determine next steps. Details of our health care and human services opening can be found on the mass.gov COVID-19 webpage.
Marylou Sudders: (36:07)
As we begin to reopen, we must be prepared for an increase in positive cases, for potential hotspots to occur. Expanded testing and tracing are crucial for beating back the disease. As the governor highlighted last week, to support increased testing capacity, we will submit our COVID-19 testing plan to the federal government no later than May 24th.
Marylou Sudders: (36:33)
Our future state for testing includes increasing capacity for 45,000 tests per day, by the end of July, and increasing that number to 75,000 by the end of December. Our goal is to decrease our positive test rate to less than 5%. And we want to expand lab processing capacity to prepare for potential false surge and to test residents and patients in high risk congregate settings, including our skilled nursing facilities, correctional facilities, and state operated or financed, state hospitals, and group homes. We want to ensure the testing capacity for individuals who are symptomatic, who are asymptomatic and who’ve been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 very recently and individuals whose employment places them at high risk of exposure to individuals who are COVID-19 positive.
Marylou Sudders: (37:29)
We will also use federal dollars to improve access and turn around, to provide for same day or next day results from the majority of tests. Implementing the strategy is contingent upon federal funding. Our plan is not for universal testing. Everyone in the state. COVID-19 current testing options are constrained, but rapidly changing and the cost to deploy at scale is prohibitive. Our plan prepares us for the future of more economical and feasible testing options concomitant with vigilant, social distancing protocols and guidance and measured reopening strategies. That is our new normal.
Marylou Sudders: (38:11)
Once a week, we will release a public facing dashboard, a stoplight if you will, red, yellow, and green, of six indicators to note our progress marked trending positive, in progress, or trending negative. They include what is our COVID-19 positive test rate, the number of individuals who have died from COVID-19, the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, our healthcare system readiness, our testing capacity and contract tracing. The daily fact pact that many of you know will be modified a little for additional data elements, including individual hospital capacity, ICU in total and additional longterm care data among others. As you note today, two of the indicators are green: healthcare system readiness, and the decline in COVID positive test rates. As I said, across the state, we have 30% availability for both ICU and medical surgical beds. Individual hospitals may vary, and we’re only using approximately one third of our current testing capacity, which is why that is also green. The others are in progress. And of course, until we only have a handful or no deaths, we can never say that we were trending positive in that area.
Marylou Sudders: (39:40)
In order to sustain the progress to date and to move us forward in the reopening of our Commonwealth, all of us must continue to be vigilant about hygiene wearing face coverings and engaging in social distancing. These very important public health and safety measures are our best tools at this time to protect ourselves, our coworkers, our families and our communities. Thank you. Governor.
Governor Charlie Baker: (40:07)
Speaker 3: (40:10)
Governor, I think there are a lot of questions about childcare. How do people who have to work put their child in danger sending them to schools [inaudible 00:06:19]?
Governor Charlie Baker: (40:22)
First of all, as the Lieutenant Governor said in her comments about the work of the advisory board, we do have a significant amount of capacity that’s currently available on the childcare side in the short term. And folks are continuing to work on creating what we would call the appropriately safe operating model for childcare going forward. And this is something where we’ve had conversations with our colleagues in other states, and in some cases with our colleagues in other countries. It’s one of those issues that everybody knows they need to find an answer on, and we fully expect as we roll forward, we’re going to have to find one too. But in the meantime, there will be significant capacity available through the existing system.
Speaker 4: (41:06)
Governor, will you be protecting the people who choose [inaudible 00:41:10]? What are your thought processes on that?
Governor Charlie Baker: (41:25)
Well, that’s part of the reason why you folks put together the attestation sheets for the businesses, yes?
Speaker 5: (41:29)
Governor Charlie Baker: (41:30)
Yes. Why don’t you speak to that?
Speaker 5: (41:32)
Well, first of all, this is a roadmap and it’s a start. I’m so grateful to the hospital care, all the frontline workers that made this day possible, and the roadmap is indeed just that. But we also heard throughout this process, the reopening board from stakeholders, industry leaders, business owners about their readiness, and also about the barriers to reopening. The readiness is their readiness to transform their workplace in terms of incorporating the safety features needed so that their workers and the public that they do business with would feel safe.
Speaker 5: (42:17)
I think that’s really important and why we’ve worked really hard with municipal officials and really listening to the business leaders about that readiness piece, because it’s about developing confidence for workers to feel safe in returning to their jobs. And as part of that standard, the employer needs to address what if my employee becomes sick with COVID while working, and to develop a plan around that as part of their reopening strategy. And we also have taken into consideration the enablers around childcare and transportation. There are some employees that can’t work from home and to develop safe options for them to care for their children, as well as safe options for them to access public transportation.
Speaker 5: (43:16)
And then just, we can’t state enough how important as we begin to reopen some activities, and the way we decided how to open is to balance the public health and safety needs with the level of risk associated with that kind of business and that workplace, and to measure, monitor, and survey over the next three weeks and see how we’re doing. And that’s why it’s really important as the governor said, as the secretary said, as we have said as a board, that people need to do their part employers and people at home, as you take on more activities, face covering distancing, and hand-washing are key to unlocking next phases of activity.
Speaker 3: (44:10)
Will there be fines for people who don’t comply? Can you speak to that?
Speaker 5: (44:12)
Yeah. I’d like to just put compliance into perspective because we don’t want to have to fine, right? What we’ve done through preparing these specific protocols and best practices, which we’ve done with businesses, talking to us about how they would incorporate these safety standards into their workplaces is to make what is challenging to change their workplace in an easier and more… an easier task to accomplish. That’s why we’ve laid out best practices, laid out guidances, laid out literally a how to document, prepared a template that this is what your safety plan components need to look like. Here is the document. Here’s a checklist so that you can verify that you have incorporated these features into your workplace and then a poster to literally demonstrate to the public and demonstrate to your workforce that you have incorporated these safety features as you reopen.
Speaker 5: (45:18)
Compliance is a responsibility that an employer has, but who’s going to keep them, hold them accountable. It’ll be a worker that doesn’t feel though, that they’re putting that practice in place or a customer who doesn’t see that these safety standards are in place. And when that happens, that person could call their local board of health. And then the enforcement of that standard in that workplace will be done in conjunction with local boards of health, our Department of Public Health and our Department of Labor and Standards. And if there are multiple check-ins with this workplace and they still haven’t complied, then that’s where a fine associated with a disobeyance of the standard would come into play.
Speaker 3: (46:18)
And that would be in the practice of selling masks?
Speaker 5: (46:18)
Yes, it’s laid out specifically in the guidance that we have shared with municipalities. We’ve done a lot of work with our municipalities to lay out this enforcement program, including laying out the specific fines for not complying.
Speaker 3: (46:34)
Speaker 6: (46:38)
Governor. Why wait to expand capacity and service on the T if business are open in phase one? Why wait until phase two to start allowing trains and buses, etcetera?
Governor Charlie Baker: (46:47)
Well, first of all, I think the most important thing that has to happen here is it has to be done safely and it has to be done in compliance with the best practice standards that are available. And in this particular case, the T wants to get this right, and so do we. It’s mostly a function of just making sure we get it right.
Speaker 7: (47:05)
Governor, you’re getting… just mean on Twitter, you’re getting hammered from both sides?
Governor Charlie Baker: (47:09)
Really. Now didn’t Jonathan Hall ask me this question last week?
Speaker 7: (47:14)
Well, some would say… [inaudible 00:47:18] would say this is going to crush the economy. And then on the other spectrum, some want to know if are you going to resign if deaths and cases go up. Why is what you’re presenting here today, the right way? And why are they off mark?
Governor Charlie Baker: (47:33)
Well, first of all, we said from the beginning on this that we were going to follow what I would describe as best practices and data. And the data that we’ve been able to collect through the work of the Reopening Advisory Board and through the work that’s done at the Command Center and the Department of Public Health has been used to incorporate and build this plan. And I think if you also talk to and look at what people in other countries and people in other states are doing with respect to how they’re going forward on this stuff, and the way they’re choosing to measure and monitor what happens as a result of that, these are all elements that we’ve basically baked into our proposal.
Governor Charlie Baker: (48:15)
And I fully expect that on a go forward basis, because of the incredible amount of anxiety that comes with both ends of this picture, which is the concern about the public health piece, which we completely understand and we spend a tremendous amount of time talking about monitoring, and God bless the people in Massachusetts for all they’ve done to get us to where we are in that one. And on the economic side, there’s tremendous anxiety associated with that. And we understand that as well, but the Reopening Advisory Board, which had very smart people on it and met with a zillion different organizations of one kind or another as they went through their process, basically laid out what they felt was a careful and a cautious approach to this.
Governor Charlie Baker: (49:01)
And when we talked about this last week, I said and Jonathan said, “What are people going to say when you put this out, and they’re going to say, “We’re going too fast, we’re not going fast enough.”” And I would just remind everybody that we believe this report developed by a lot of really bright, smart people who both work in various sectors here in the Commonwealth, live in different regions and operate in different regions of the Commonwealth, have contacts and relationships with people in other states and other countries to help inform our decision making along with the very talented and world-class healthcare and public health people we have developed what they consider to be the balanced approach to this.
Governor Charlie Baker: (49:42)
And the one point I would make to everybody. And I said, this five times in my opening remarks, the process associated with these phases is a function of how we do and how we do is a function of how we do with respect to managing the public health issues as we begin this reopening process. People need to understand they need to have a face covering if they can’t keep their distance from other people. Keeping distance from other people would be best. Wash hands, hygiene, all that stuff, surfaces and all the rest. And recognize and understand that we are going to pay attention to that public health data as we move forward. And it’s going to be critically important for people to continue to do the things that they’ve been doing to get us to this point over the course of the past 60 days.
Speaker 3: (50:37)
What if we do see a spike? What if we do see a spike?
Speaker 8: (50:37)
Governor [crosstalk 00:50:37] faced with demonstrations in front of your home. Do you feel confident or do you feel pressured to go ahead and get this [inaudible 00:50:45] that you want to?
Governor Charlie Baker: (50:48)
I said all along that what was really going to drive our decision making around this was going to be data and to the extent there were experiences and other places we could rely on, we would rely on that as well. And I think the pace we’re moving at, I think the way that.
Governor Charlie Baker: (51:03)
… and I think the pace we’re moving at, I think the way the phases were set up in the report, I think the work they did in conjunctions with folks in the health care community, and I especially believe the work that we’ve done already to ramp up our testing and develop a tracing initiative and continue to grow and expand that are the right things to be doing at the right rate of speed. Bruce?
Just two nuts and bolts questions. You’re opening construction and manufacturing sites. But a lot of those have been open and deemed essential already. How big is that opening, really? And two, [inaudible 00:51:46]?
Governor Charlie Baker: (51:48)
I would say that the construction and the manufacturing pieces build on what we would describe and what you described as existing operating models. But I would say that the industry specific guidelines and the global guidelines are ones they all have to comply with, whether they’ve been open or not. And I think for some of them, that’s going to require some work over the course of the next few days, which is appropriate and necessary. With respect to the timeframe around this, at least three weeks between phases, but it could be more. And that is going to be a function, folks, of the data. And it says it right in the report, that the move to a next phase is going to be a function of a review of how we’re doing in the phase that we’re in. And that’s going to be all about the public health data.
Speaker 9: (52:45)
What if the public health data does show that there are spikes and some hotspots? I mean, will you be in a situation where you may have to shut some things down again?
Governor Charlie Baker: (52:56)
Well, I think one of the reasons for expanding our testing protocol and investing in our tracing program is so that we have the ability to act quickly if we do come across outbreaks or hotspots. I certainly think we are going to be riveted to this notion that we all have a responsibility with respect to dealing with the virus. And everybody needs to keep doing the things they’ve been doing. We put a very aggressive testing protocol in place. We’re going to build on it. We have a very aggressive tracing program. We’re going to build on that. And we’re going to do the things we need to do in partnership with our colleagues here in the Commonwealth to try to limit the growth of the virus. But people need to understand that we’re playing this game, and it’s a real one, with the virus and the economy at the same time. And it’s really important for people to step up and recognize and understand that this game’s not over.
Speaker 10: (54:05)
[inaudible 00:54:05] I see there’s six metrics. If there’s one red, do we move forward or?
Governor Charlie Baker: (54:11)
Well, the way I would describe the metrics, and we’ve talked a little bit about this, is the reason there’s not one, and the reason there’s six, is because they operate as a package. And we’re going to rely on the guidance we get from these folks and from the medical advisory board at the command center with respect to how to interpret these numbers as we move forward. [crosstalk 00:54:40] Say again.
Speaker 11: (54:40)
Why is our plan different than some of the other neighboring states? People wonder why.
Governor Charlie Baker: (54:45)
Yeah. Well, I’d say a couple of things about that. One is we got hit a lot harder by COVID-19 and by the coronavirus than most other states. In fact, there are really only, depending upon how you do the math, there are only two or three that got hit harder than we did. But the top five for all intents and purposes is New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan. Those are the top five states that took the biggest hit associated with COVID-19, by any way you would choose to measure it. And I think that creates for us a different way of thinking about how we work our way out of this than you might see in places that didn’t have the same seriously consequential hit that we had.
Speaker 12: (55:39)
If I could add, don’t use Canvas set to order for curbside delivery on the 25th. And then in phase two, you reopen stores.a Is there still a concern about traveling to Massachusetts? Is that still-
Governor Charlie Baker: (55:51)
Speaker 12: (55:54)
And it says delivery only for other retail, there’s no change to Canvas delivery, right?
Governor Charlie Baker: (55:59)
Speaker 12: (56:00)
Are you still concerned about-
Governor Charlie Baker: (56:02)
Speaker 12: (56:04)
So why reopen?
Governor Charlie Baker: (56:06)
Well, first of all, if you’re going to do curbside, it makes sense to do curbside for everybody. And the whole point behind curbside is it doesn’t require people to go inside and stand around. And there’s plenty of evidence at this point that inside spaces with a long period of time in which people are there, especially if they don’t have the ability to socially distance, is probably the biggest and most significant opportunity for spread, which is why the curbside piece to some extent is a much more viable and attractive option, especially given the fact that our numbers are sort of green and mostly yellow with respect to a lot of the key measures here.
Speaker 12: (56:49)
Could you enforce in state only, residents only?
Governor Charlie Baker: (56:53)
Our view is not a lot of change in state law.
Speaker 13: (57:04)
[ inaudible 00:56:54].
Governor Charlie Baker: (57:08)
So it is our hope that one of the things that flashes all the way through this report is vulnerable populations, protect vulnerable populations. Vulnerable populations should do everything they possibly can to stay at home and to recognize and understand the significant risks that COVID-19 presents for them. And I think it’s our hope that that will be something that our colleagues in the religious community will take very seriously when they think about how they want to offer in person services to their congregations. The guidance that was developed on this is very particular and very clear. And again, it came out of conversations with a bunch of folks in the religious community, as well as folks in the healthcare and public health community.
Governor Charlie Baker: (58:07)
I said from the beginning, and I know the Lieutenant governor feels the same way because we talked about it, that taking away the opportunity for people to worship together was one of the worst of all of the decisions that we had to make in all this. And I am expecting and anticipating, based on the conversations the reopening advisory board had with communities of faith and we’ve had with communities of faith, that people will be diligent and serious about making sure that what they do with regard to reopening will work for them and for their congregation.
Speaker 13: (58:47)
Where do wakes and funerals fit into this?
Governor Charlie Baker: (58:53)
I think they’re in the… Yeah, they’re on the website.
Speaker 14: (58:59)
[crosstalk 00:58:59] And retailers open their doors in phase two, [inaudible 00:59:03]?
Governor Charlie Baker: (59:07)
That’s one of the reasons why we created the task force to take a look at the issues associated with those particular industries. And that’ll obviously be one of the issues the Lieutenant governor and the secretary and the task force speak to.
Governor Charlie Baker: (59:26)
State government, the executive, I can’t speak for the… The building basically is managed on a tripartite basis between us and the legislature, although it’s more the people’s building and the legislature’s building than it is ours. And they and we are talking about how they want to handle this place and space. But state government generally is, on the executive side, has been open all the way through here. And the big challenge for us, and it will roll out over the course of the next couple of weeks, and we’ll obviously make sure people have notice, is we’re going to have to open up some stuff that we either started doing online or dramatically reduced the amount of customer facing activity that we did. And we’ll be rolling that out over the course of the next few weeks. But we fully expect to put as much of what we possibly can back in service.
Speaker 16: (01:00:20)
Governor, the May 25th deadlines are also for retailers. Does that also apply for firearms sellers or are they expected to adhere to the parameters of the federal judges?
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:00:31)
Federal order, federal order.
Speaker 17: (01:00:31)
Governor, with respect to games, youth sporting games are mentioned in this plan. A lot of people wondering about the Sox, Patriots. Can you say anything about that?
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:00:44)
Well, the youth sports stuff is being worked through the reopening advisory board. And there are a lot of people who frankly gave you guys some really good ideas about how to do this. The professional stuff’s running through a different channel.
Speaker 17: (01:00:58)
So no decision yet on where the fall will be?
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:00:59)
Speaker 18: (01:00:59)
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:01:15)
Well, it’s mostly reopening for purposes of what I would describe as sort of lab work and research with guidelines, both they have to abide by the general guidelines and they have to buy by industry specific guidelines. The conversation about the fall, the discussion there is ongoing. And I would expect that to get resolved at some point over the course of the next four or five weeks. But that hasn’t been answered yet.
Speaker 19: (01:01:51)
For businesses that are reopening, what surveillance testing options will they have, in this phase and the subsequent ones? Will they have access to the whole testing program? Will they be expected to send employees elsewhere?
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:02:06)
Well, I think what I would say first of all is a lot of that will be laid out in the federal application. But at this point in time, there’s sort of four levels of testing, which the secretary spoke to, broader definition around symptomatic testing, asymptomatic testing of close contacts, testing of people who work on a continual basis with folks who are dealing with COVID, which would be healthcare folks and some of the folks in municipal government and state government, and then folks who work with vulnerable populations. And then underneath that would be employer based testing, where we’re basically going to put up the capacity and then it’s going to be up to them to decide what they think the appropriate protocol is for them and their employees based on whatever their circumstances are.
Speaker 20: (01:02:57)
Memorial Day’s coming up. People are nervous and still a bit confused about what they can plan, what they can still do. Do you have any advice to them as we get closer to the weekend?
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:03:07)
Around something in particular?
Speaker 20: (01:03:09)
Going to the beaches or trying to enjoy the nice weather? Has any of that changed? Gatherings of 10 or more people?
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:03:18)
The biggest thing I would say, first of all, about Memorial Day is there are many communities that have events for Memorial Day that are typically held at cemeteries and other sort of sacred ground. And I know communities are going to work hard to make sure that if they do events like that, that people are appropriately distanced and they wear masks and they do all the things they’re supposed to do. But that is a very important event. And I know for many people, including the two of us, it’s especially an important one. I guess what I would say is people need to continue to use their heads on this stuff and to recognize and understand that we are still in the middle of this virus, that it’s not gone away, that we still have positive tests every single day in Massachusetts, that we’ve made a lot of progress on hospitalizations, but we are continuing to carry a lot of our surge capacity on the hospital side forward because we believe we may need it.
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:04:24)
And it needs to be there as part of the system. And that what people really need to do is be smart and vigilant and recognize and understand that, with respect to whatever they choose to do. But that’s pretty much been the message we’ve delivered around almost all activities and certainly around outdoor activities. Just take advantage of the guidance that so many people have made available and understand and recognize that it’s really important for us, whatever you choose to do, that you not spread the virus or get it from somebody else.
Speaker 21: (01:05:02)
Can you clarify the difference between the stay at home and the safer at home? Some people are already asking, can my kid hang out with 10 other kids now?
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:05:11)
I think it says right at the bottom of the thing, you should limit your play dates. The safer at home order looks a lot like the stay at home order, excuse me, advisory. What it does is it incorporates some of the new guidance associated with the reopening advisory and the order associated with that into the safer at home guidance. It’s not a dramatic departure from where we were, but it does reflect the fact that we are pursuing at this point a phase reopening strategy. Thanks.
Speaker 22: (01:05:55)
Is the state going to be sued for this? Is there going to be lawsuits like there were in other states?
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:05:58)