Aug 11, 2020
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker Press Conference Transcript August 11
Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker’s coronavirus press conference on August 11. He said, “I can’t imagine a good reason not to go back,” when discussing the reopening of schools in districts with lower rates of coronavirus infections. Read the transcript of his press conference here.
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Governor Charlie Baker: (00:00)
We’ve been seeing an uptick in COVID-19 in various communities across Massachusetts. There are 380 patients hospitalized for COVID-19. And, of that, 60 are in the ICU. The three day average number of patients hospitalized, as most people know, is down 90% since the middle of August. And currently, there are no hospitals using surge capacity.
Governor Charlie Baker: (00:23)
Last Friday, we announced some new measures to address the uptick in cases we’ve seen in parts of Massachusetts. Part of that strategy involves tailoring it to specific communities where the data indicates there’s significant community spread concerns. Today, we’re making available to all cities and towns enhanced community by community level data to better direct state and municipal resources.
Governor Charlie Baker: (00:53)
The good news is the vast majority of the communities in Massachusetts are experiencing low COVID case numbers. And most are seeing trends that are moving in the right direction. In our most recent town by town report, our public health data shows the 318 communities have low numbers of new cases, four or less or under four per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. This measure, this 100,000 people measure is the one that’s used by many other states to measure community health under COVID-19.
Governor Charlie Baker: (01:28)
However, there are about 33 communities in Massachusetts that had more than four cases per 100,000 people during the previous two weeks of testing. These communities require specific strategies to attack COVID there and to work with them to stop the spread. In the end, working with our colleagues in local government is our key strategy in developing solutions to unique challenges that they face. Every community is different, but this could include additional testing, tracing, and isolation resources. And we’re also implementing stepped up enforcement measures. And we’ll also work with these communities on messaging and other communication strategies as we and they see fit. The lieutenant governor and I reached out to all of these communities in the past couple of days, because we want to partner with them in whatever way makes the most sense to help them deal with this spread in their communities.
Governor Charlie Baker: (02:27)
We also need to ensure that the businesses and individuals in those communities are aware of the level of COVID that exists in their communities and what would be required of them to help control it. To accomplish this, we’re releasing a map today that’s based in part on case counts in every town. And it will be updated on a regular basis going forward. Using public health data, the command center has created a color coded ranking system to show a community using typical traffic light colors as red, yellow, green, or white.
Governor Charlie Baker: (03:03)
Red obviously indicates municipalities that have more than eight cases of COVID per 100,000 people. And this is based on a national and global public health standard that’s extremely high risk for COVID infection. Yellow indicates municipalities between four and eight cases per 100,000 people or a moderate level of risk. And, depending on the community, there could be areas where trends are moving in the wrong direction, although, in about half of these communities, we’ve seen downward trends for the past two or four weeks. Green indicates municipalities with less than four cases per 100,000. And white indicates less than five total cases of COVID-19 reported in the most recent 14 day period, the lowest number of cases here in the Commonwealth. Secretary Sudders will share more on this methodology in a minute.
Governor Charlie Baker: (03:57)
I want to be clear on one point. Regardless of where your community sits, COVID is not going away. Your actions, no matter where you live or where you work, will determine in many respects whether and how this virus spreads. The lieutenant governor and I have reached out to all of the municipal leaders that are in the communities that rank in either the high risk or moderate risk category to start a dialogue on how we can offer state support and a variety of resources to help them work to reduce COVID in their communities. lieutenant governor will talk more about that in a minute.
Governor Charlie Baker: (04:36)
As I said Friday, our administration is ready to provide assistance to enhance outreach and enforcement and messaging efforts, as well as additional public health resources and public awareness strategies in these moderate and high risk communities. And we’re asking everyone to recognize that this virus continues to affect, injure, and kill people every single day.
Governor Charlie Baker: (05:02)
In the high risk communities, residents need to be aware, first of all, that they are in a high risk community. For everyone in these communities, we’re advising everybody to start with a perfect assumption that you need to do all you can to keep your family and yourselves safe. Wear a mask, if you go out. Wash your hands. Engage in the basic hygiene strategies that we’ve all talked about for months. Avoid large group gatherings. And, while it may be difficult, find a way to be a little less familiar with the people with whom you are most familiar outside your family.
Governor Charlie Baker: (05:42)
On Friday, we unveiled new statewide guidelines and introduced a COVID enforcement and intervention team, which is a concept we plan to discuss with many of our colleagues in local government. That team will be a key resource to assist local officials as we work with them on a COVID-19 response. They’ll be charged with two main tasks, ramping up enforcement statewide and coordinating local intervention efforts that will make the most sense in each of these high risk and moderate risk communities. The team will provide different resources in different communities, but it could include a number of things, including helping towns access additional federal funds. They’ll likely offer significant assistance to ramp up enforcement in places where it’s needed, especially when it comes to dealing with some of the issues associated with bars and restaurants, and also issues associated with what, in many cases, represent local orders around face coverings and gatherings.
Governor Charlie Baker: (06:47)
Some of these higher risk COVID communities may also see restrictions or shut downs with respect to parks, playgrounds, some businesses, or other entities that are determined to have been part of the issue, with respect to this spread based on contact tracing and other conversations. The purpose of mobilizing an enforcement and intervention team and implementing more statewide guidance is to provide public awareness and to change behavior. Coordinated by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, along with the Executive Office of Public Safety, we’re bringing together multiple state agencies, including the Division of Local Services, the Department of Public Health, the Division of Labor Standards, the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, and the state police. The team will coordinate an increased enforcement effort across the state to ensure that businesses and residents are aware of and following the COVID instructions in each community.
Governor Charlie Baker: (07:45)
As we said last week, state and local police are now authorized to enforce these orders and to help local officials enforce face coverings, gatherings, and other orders, both state and local, more comprehensively. For example, enforcement has already begun a Logan Airport and Worcester Airport. Yesterday, Massport began a travel ambassador program at both airports. Massport employees will serve as ambassadors to provide information to arriving passengers about the Commonwealth’s travel order and how to access the online form on mass.gov. The team greeted many passengers arriving from higher risk communities, cities, and states, and on international flights.
Governor Charlie Baker: (08:29)
The good news here should not get lost. Over 318 communities here in Massachusetts are at or below national benchmarks with respect to containing COVID in their communities. But we still have work to do in Massachusetts. We want to help parents, families, and individuals make smart decisions about their daily activities. We’re asking families in moderate and high risk communities to avoid having big play dates, and avoid big gatherings with multiple neighbors and friends, and to wear face coverings, and to be conscious of all the rules and the guidance that have been provided by the Commonwealth and by your local boards of health and by your local communities over the course of the past few months. People need to step up and be aware of the level of spread in each community, and especially in your own area, and to be vigilant. The virus doesn’t care about boundaries, and it certainly takes every opening any of us give it.
Governor Charlie Baker: (09:33)
We’re making progress and have made progress in our fight, but we have seen the effects of too many people letting their guard down and simply relaxing get in the way that some of our continued move forward. We can continue to reopen Massachusetts and get back to something like a new normal, but only if everybody continues to bring their fight to this virus. In many respects, we know what it takes, but we need to do it to get the job done. With that, I’ll turn it over to the lieutenant governor.
Speaker 1: (10:07)
All right. That was Governor Charlie Baker there giving us an update on the state’s latest efforts versus COVID-19, announcing that there’s going to be more data community by community available today.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito: (10:17)
… cases. And we must now take additional steps to stop the spread of the virus. We are thankful for the collaboration and leadership we’ve seen from our partners in local government. Throughout our fight against COVID-19, we have worked hand in hand with mayors, and managers, and local officials in each of our 351 cities and towns to do what is best for each of these communities. As we ramp up targeted initiatives, support, and enforcement in higher risk communities, we continue to have conversations with all municipal officials.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito: (10:58)
As we created the scale for better understanding of the rate of the COVID-19 virus community by community, working with our local officials has been and will continue to be an integral step in our fight against COVID-19. Governor Baker and I have spoken to municipal officials in the red and yellow communities. And we will continue to support them with state resources to help stop the spread of this disease and continue to fight the virus. We do this together. Municipal leaders in these high risk communities will work with their local boards of health to identify where their new cases are coming from. It’s very important. In some communities, a slight increase could be linked to a single location, like a congregate care facility. We’ve also offered assistance in contact tracing in order to ensure boards of health can reach out to these affected individuals and figure out where they work, where they’ve been, and anything else that might explain-
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito: (12:03)
… Work, where they’ve been and anything else that might explain how they got it. We will also help support people who have been diagnosed and need to isolate. Our Commonwealth is only as strong as each of our 351 communities. And our goal remains to defeat COVID-19 here in all of Massachusetts. We will continue to work together with our local officials and continue to fight and make progress in this challenging time.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito: (12:35)
But as the governor said, not only our local officials and state officials are working together, but everyone, everyone across this Commonwealth has a role to play. To the mayors, to the city managers, the town officials, to the local boards of health, this has been a long journey. We want to thank you all for getting up every day, reporting to your workplaces, keeping your teams together, working so hard and doing it day after day.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito: (13:07)
Because of your efforts and our continued work together, we are making progress in this Commonwealth and we want to continue to do so. So we thank you for your support, your cooperation, your collaboration and your tremendous efforts. We truly appreciate you. It’s now my pleasure to turn this over to Secretary Sudders.
Marylou Sudders: (13:32)
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, good afternoon. As the pandemic has evolved, we continue to refine, update and strengthen our public reporting. On a national level, there are a number of models and yes, a model is just a model, but generally there are four or five key metrics that are used to measure how a state is doing regarding COVID. They include daily cases per 100,000 trends, rate of coronavirus testing, positivity rates, and ICU capacity.
Marylou Sudders: (14:04)
In line with these national and state reporting, we’ve published on a daily basis information on test rates, the number of patients in hospital and intensive care units, the number of hospitals in surge and of course deaths. And on a weekly basis, we’ve been reporting information about municipalities. As you’ve heard, we have updated the weekly information about municipalities to include average daily cases per 100,000, their trend, are they increasing, decreasing or staying the same and positivity rates.
Marylou Sudders: (14:38)
Daily cases is a good proxy for the rate of infection or transmission. And while percent positivity remains important, individuals are now being tested for reasons other than being symptomatic or asymptomatic, abiding by the travel restrictions for example. So using the stoplight colors, red, yellow and green, we’ve created color charts depicting municipalities regarding new cases per 100,000.
Marylou Sudders: (15:06)
As the governor said, red indicates communities that have over eight cases per 100,000 residents. Yellow are obviously the moderate communities that have between four and eight cases. And green are communities with fewer than four cases per 100,000. And then the unshaded areas are the communities that have fewer than five cases and our small municipalities. The map that is displayed right now, just checking, with the communities by color will be updated weekly and included in the Department of Public Health’s weekly health report. So you will start to see this report tomorrow.
Marylou Sudders: (15:45)
Currently, there are four communities at the highest risk; Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, and Revere. To residents in these communities, we have some simple messages. There is an extremely high level of COVID in your community. Respect the virus and stay vigilant. Masks work. Wear a face covering at all times, went outside of your home. Don’t spread this virus to your family. Stay six feet apart at all times inside and outside. The COVID pandemic is not over. Wash your hands, stay home if you are ill and call your doctor. Please don’t share food drinks or utensils with anyone and I know how hard that is. Just try this, but don’t. So please don’t share food drinks or utensils with anyone. Wash your hands frequently. The governor has said many times that COVID is not taking the summer off. We know that by living here in New England, we do not get many months of the year with nice weather like this. And people want to be outside spending time with loved ones and friends having fun.
Marylou Sudders: (17:01)
I get that this is even more attempting after so many months of everyone making sacrifices, missing out or postponing major celebrations and staying home. But now is not the time to be complacent. Please take all the measures you can to stay vigilant and mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. It’s important to practice good hygiene. Residents of these higher risk communities should wear a mask at all times particularly when you cannot keep six feet away from others.
Marylou Sudders: (17:34)
You should also consider wearing a face covering inside your home if an older individual or someone with a compromised medical condition is part of your immediate household, and safe distance cannot be maintained and other members of your household are going to work, participating in recreational activities outside the home. If you gather with other people, keep it small. We’re becoming lax. As a reminder, the governor’s gatherings order has been updated to limit outdoor gatherings to 50 people. The order also now requires face coverings at private events where more than 10 people from different households will be mixing. Massachusetts residents have done a lot of work over the last several months to bring our case numbers and positive test rates down, but continued progress requires everyone to remain vigilant. Now, in addition to adding the information using the stoplight colors to the weekly dashboard, tomorrow the Department of Public Health will be making several changes to the daily and weekly public health dashboards. As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, we continue to refine our public reporting. We’ve continued to include additional information and data points on cases, testing, hospitals, demographics, and more to both the daily and weekly reports.
Marylou Sudders: (19:02)
But we recognize that as we move to a new phase in response to the pandemic, we need to focus on the most critical metrics on a day-to-day basis. The daily report will be streamlined to highlight the particular data points most useful to track the daily impact of the virus. Data that had been provided daily because of their utility earlier in the pandemic, but which are less meaningful day-to-day now will be consolidated into the weekly public health report. We’re also adding additional metrics to the daily report.
Marylou Sudders: (19:37)
So going forward, we will include daily metrics on the number of positive and negative antigen and serology tests reported to the Department of Public Health. We will also be making updates based on the latest CDC guidance that came out last Friday around case definition and reporting of probable cases. And we will include a glossary of terms. We understand and appreciate that many, many people in organizations use our data to create their own reports and share it in different ways with their various audiences.
Marylou Sudders: (20:10)
So we give a great deal of thought the changes that we make. We’re making these changes to both better illustrate the cumulative effect of the pandemic, and to better understand the burden of the virus in Massachusetts at the current moment. Thank you. Governor.
Governor Charlie Baker: (20:28)
Speaker 2: (20:29)
Governor, can you explain how these COVID enforcement teams are going to work specifically? I talked with the mayor yesterday, he welcomed the help, but he was very unclear. Specifically, what does ramp up enforcement action mean?
Governor Charlie Baker: (20:44)
Well, first of all as Secretary Sudders pointed out, we did change some of our rules with respect to gatherings. Lieutenant Governor and I said earlier, both talked, reached out to him and I think I didn’t get to one person, which is why I didn’t say we talked to everybody. But we reached out to all the communities that were either high risk or moderate risk.
Governor Charlie Baker: (21:08)
And if I made a word cloud with respect to what do you think is going on in your community? The biggest word in the word cloud would be gatherings. The second biggest word in the word cloud would be parties. The third biggest word in the word cloud would be face coverings. Over and over again what these folks said is there are too many informal gatherings. There are too many people out and nobody’s wearing face coverings.
Governor Charlie Baker: (21:35)
I mean, that was literally like a unified message across every conversation that both of us had. So point number one, the reason we changed the gathering rule dropped it down to 50 and basically said, “Gatherings over 10 private that don’t involve family, people need to wear face coverings” is to create a framework here that’s a little different than the one we’ve had before. And to send a message that it’s really important if you’re putting a bunch of people in your house or in your backyard, and they’re not the immediate people you have in your house every day that you live with, people need to wear face coverings.
Governor Charlie Baker: (22:15)
And they need to respect the fact that we still have a lot of asymptomatic transmission going on, not just here in Massachusetts, but around the world. So point number one, changed the rules and message aggressively about why we’re changing the rules and what that means.
Governor Charlie Baker: (22:34)
And then secondly, talk with our colleagues in local government about how we can help them accentuate the message, either through signage or Reverse 9-1-1 or flyers or whatever it is, or online communication, whatever means or mechanisms they think need to take place in the six primary languages that exist in Massachusetts and then be able and willing to help them if they say to us, “Could you help us just track some of the parties that are going on in our communities? Follow up on some of the phone calls and complaints that we get. Follow up on some of the couple of phone calls and complaints that we the Commonwealth get.”
Governor Charlie Baker: (23:11)
And the idea here is not to be issuing big fines. The idea here is to either make sure people are abiding by the gathering rules and the guidance. Well, first of all to send people home if they’re not. Because we’re not doing anybody any good with respect to the public health issues we’re talking about here if we let these folks just continue to do this sort of thing, because it’s clearly having an impact and the impact it’s having is negative.
Speaker 3: (23:39)
Governor, last week you said something interesting. I mean, you always say interesting things, but the-
Governor Charlie Baker: (23:44)
Yeah, just last week. Okay.
Speaker 3: (23:48)
The towns around Boston were seeing these [inaudible 00:11:52]. Why is that? You kind of explained a little bit about people are a little bit more laxed maybe at times.
Governor Charlie Baker: (23:58)
Well, I would also use that word. MaryLou actually used it as well. Laxed would have been in my-
Governor Charlie Baker: (24:03)
… is sort of … Marylou actually used it as well. Lax would have been in my word cloud as well. That one came up in many of the conversations that I had with people. One of the other words that would come up was graduation. It’s very clear that a bunch of these folks were very cognizant of the fact that there were a lot of parties that took place around graduation. And I have three kids who graduated from high school. I get it.
Governor Charlie Baker: (24:26)
But people need to understand that there is a lot of asymptomatic transmission going on. And there are a lot of people who don’t know they even carry the virus, but they are in fact contagious. And even if it’s your neighbors and your friends, if it’s a decent sized group, people really need to wear face coverings, not share food, not share drink, and take this stuff seriously.
Speaker 4: (25:00)
I covered the return of the Mayflower II yesterday. It was a beautiful day. Everybody wanted to see [inaudible 00:25:09]. Plenty of people close together.
Governor Charlie Baker: (25:12)
Please tell me they were wearing face coverings. No? Really?
Speaker 4: (25:16)
Not everybody. I mean, it was a good number. A good, healthy 20 to 30% [inaudible 00:25:24]. A lot of people had down with the nose showing. So would you say that we should not have these types of celebrations? Or would you urge … I mean, Plymouth, is 400 years since the Mayflower launched. You don’t want to miss it. Again, we did put it off for a while but we had people sitting close together.
Governor Charlie Baker: (25:47)
I think one of the things we tried to say about COVID is that this is not a permanent state of play. I don’t think anybody thinks it’s going to be this way forever, but we do believe that it is this way now. And in that context, people are postponing or canceling a lot of things. Over the weekend, the Big Ten basically canceled their fall sports season. That is a really significant statement about how seriously they are taking COVID and the issues associated with gatherings. And they basically concluded that, one way or another, we’re just not going to be able to make this happen in a way that we believe can work. And therefore they’re either pushing it off to the spring or they’re going to move it off and restart the clock next year. And for thousands and thousands and thousands of kids, that’s a major life event. And it’s certainly the same for many of the adults and the parents and the fans and all the rest, and the folks who were associated with those programs who get paid to execute on them.
Governor Charlie Baker: (27:08)
But I think, in some respects, people are being … are trying to balance the issues associated with these decisions. And if you told me that a whole bunch of people showed up at Plymouth and everybody had face coverings on, and people tried to do the best they could to deal with the issues around distance, because it is 400 years and it is a Mayflower, I would have said, in the grand scheme of things, not bad. But the mask is … I can’t emphasize how important those face coverings are, especially if you’re going to be in a decent sized group, which at this point we’ve determined is more than 10.
Governor Charlie Baker: (27:48)
Speaker 5: (27:48)
Will you be doing targeted inspections in these high risk communities? And, would you consider-
Governor Charlie Baker: (27:58)
Can you define what you mean by an inspection?
Speaker 5: (27:59)
Are business owners going to start getting knocks on the door to make sure that they’re following everything? And some of them are worried that they’re going to be aggressively harassed by this enforcement team because they don’t know what it is. My follow up question to that would be, if you do this increase in contact tracing, would you have more roll back putting in specific communities versus the entire state if you found out, “Oh, it’s from this gym.” Is that something that you would possibly do as a result?
Governor Charlie Baker: (28:25)
Well obviously the contact tracing is where we get a big piece of our data and our information from, and that will continue to be the case. And one of the things we’ve said to a number of these communities that we’ve talked to is, if you want help on contact tracing, if you think the collaborative that we’ve got can be a helpful tool to you in terms of your ability to trace, ask. And a number of the communities that are part of the moderate and high risk cluster here already use, or have relationships with, our contact tracing collaborative. And a lot of what they know about the things that translate into issues around parties or gatherings or other events comes from the work that they’ve either done themselves or the work that they’ve done in conjunction with the collaborative.
Governor Charlie Baker: (29:13)
On the inspection piece. Look, I think, again, what both Lieutenant Governor Polito and I said to people yesterday was, we want to help you. And if you think you have issues with A, B or C that relate to your employer community, but you don’t believe you have the ability to either message to them or communicate with them or contact them or inspect them, tell us and we’ll help. That’s a part of what we want …
Governor Charlie Baker: (29:41)
Honestly, we would like this to be more sort of locally driven, using the data that we both have access to, but where we’re basically supporting the things that they would want to do or helping them do more than they might’ve done before. I think the messaging thing, in particular, is a really big deal. I mean, remember, we’ve been standing up here for the past six to eight weeks, talking about a statewide positive case rate of around 1.7 to 1.9%.
Governor Charlie Baker: (30:17)
Now it wouldn’t be that hard for everybody to think that means it’s 1.7 to 1.9 across the Commonwealth. It’s not, but it wouldn’t be that hard to think that. Part of why we’re sort of doubling down on community specific data is to make sure that everybody knows what’s going on in their community, using these percent positive rates and the cases per a 100,000 rates, which are considered, in many respects, to be the appropriate community-based measures. And then working with local folks to figure out what the best strategies are to help the ones that are increasing, come down, and to help the ones that are decreasing, decrease more. And remember, in some cases, Lawrence is … Lawrence and Chelsea are both interesting examples of this. I mean, Chelsea is red, Lawrence is yellow, but both of them are way down from where they were a couple of months ago. We just need to continue the progress
Speaker 6: (31:22)
Will this map contain in-person learning, which communities are saying in-person, hybrid, et cetera.
Governor Charlie Baker: (31:27)
Well, I know that lieutenant governor and I both talked to Commissioner Riley over the weekend, and he has a regular ongoing dialogue with superintendents. I think he’s talking to him practically every day at this point. And we would certainly hope that, based on this data, if you’re in a green or a white community, I can’t imagine a good reason not to go back, whether it’s full time or in some sort of a hybrid. Because, for all intents and purposes, you meet all the benchmarks that are being used across the country and across New England to make decisions about whether it’s safe to go back to school.
Governor Charlie Baker: (32:02)
And remember, all the guidance that was developed by DESE and distributed to schools and to school districts, was done with the Department of Public Health, Dr. Nelson, who’s a very well known infectious disease and epidemiologist specialist, and the American Academy of Pediatrics here in Massachusetts. It’s a good set of guidance and it’s the right kind of advisories. And contextually, those communities are in a perfectly appropriate place to have kids back.
Governor Charlie Baker: (32:33)
I just want to …
Speaker 7: (32:38)
Do you expect enforcement in these cities and towns to be out looking for violations like backyard gatherings, parties, or even like sport events where you have a lot of people? Are enforcement teams going to be actively looking for that kind of thing?
Governor Charlie Baker: (32:50)
I think it’s more likely to be in response to complaints. I mean, one of the things we heard from the number of our colleagues in local government, and remember, we changed the rules. Used to be 100, public spaces. Now it’s 50 in public spaces and it’s more than 10 in private spaces. Part of the reason for changing the rules was one of the things we heard from local communities is, there’s not a lot I can do in my community with private gatherings, but I do think private gatherings are a problem.
Governor Charlie Baker: (33:24)
So if one of the things that comes out of this is a local community says to us, “We would like your help in just responding to complaints that we get about large gatherings in our community.” We want to be able to help them do that. But the goal there would be to get people to either put on a mask, socially distance, abide by the rules, play by the rules. That would be goal number one here. No one’s looking to like arrest people and write citations unless people literally refuse to play by the rules associated with the orders.
Speaker 5: (34:03)
I have two questions. I have two questions, Governor. If you could just speak to your gathering order, it’s not terribly clear who gets the fine. Is it the host of the party? The venue owner? Or is it all 75 to 100 people? Do they all potentially get fines? What were you thinking about that?
Governor Charlie Baker: (34:21)
It’s the venue.
Speaker 5: (34:22)
It would be the venue?
Governor Charlie Baker: (34:23)
It’s the venue. Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 8: (34:25)
So, this per 100,000 is a new metric. [inaudible 00:34:30] type questions-
Governor Charlie Baker: (34:29)
Speaker 8: (34:37)
The new metric of per 100,000 is new and I’m not sure I understand [inaudible 00:34:37] little, nerdy type reference-
Governor Charlie Baker: (34:40)
I would you expect no less.
Speaker 8: (34:42)
The white, is that four cases or five cases overall since the beginning of the pandemic, or in the last two weeks?
Speaker 9: (34:57)
Average new [inaudible 00:34:52].
Speaker 8: (34:59)
Okay. And the map, I see two red [inaudible 00:34:59] communities.
Governor Charlie Baker: (35:00)
Yeah. Well, they’re next to each other. I mean, Chelsea and Revere and Everett and Lynn are all next to each other. So it probably looks like … it might look like too, but it’s four.
Speaker 8: (35:09)
Do you have a list [inaudible 00:35:13].
Governor Charlie Baker: (35:09)
Speaker 8: (35:09)
And then, how do you calculate 100,000 for a community of 20,000.
Governor Charlie Baker: (35:20)
Do the math.
Speaker 8: (35:23)
How do you do that?
Governor Charlie Baker: (35:23)
Multiply by five.
Speaker 8: (35:23)
Just do it for 20,000-
Governor Charlie Baker: (35:26)
It’s average daily cases.
Speaker 10: (35:29)
Governor, there’s a small outbreak in the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, and the coalition there is calling for more resources from the State. One being a ventilation system in particular. Have you had any contact with them about any of their demands?
Governor Charlie Baker: (35:39)
Do you want to speak to this? It’s not an outbreak.
Marylou Sudders: (35:50)
As we’ve said before, there’s two projects going on at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. One is [inaudible 00:35:57] the staff, which is a refresh, which is a floor by floor infection control ventilation-
Marylou Sudders: (36:03)
… for infection control, ventilation, and the rest, in creating cohorts. And the second is the long-term capital project, which the company was chosen to do the planning for, including the community engagement around that. And it’s the same company, actually, who’s doing the work at Chelsea. It’s Payette & Company. COVID is with us, and there are individuals, both staff and residents, who have tested positive. I would not call it an outbreak. I would call what we’re doing at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home exactly what we should be doing, which is looking for symptoms. If people need to be transferred to a hospital for treatment, they’ll be transferred to the Holyoke Medical Center. And then we test everyone, both in going forward basis, on a surveillance basis.
Governor Charlie Baker: (36:50)
Secretary Sutters, have you can give note of this research that gaiters are not as effective as an N95 mask, [inaudible 00:37:08] mask. And would the state consider changing guidance on just using a scarf or one of these thin gaiters-
Marylou Sudders: (37:07)
So the … I think it was Duke just reported. And there’s a simple … I think the first thing we’re going to do is actually put up the simple test that actually was also reported by Duke, which is if you put up your face covering, if you can see through it, it’s probably not effective. So I think the first thing we’re going to do is do some messaging around that. So if you have a face covering, I actually, of course, because this is who I am, went home the other night and picked up all my face coverings and held them up and they all passed. So that’s the first thing we’re going to do. And we’re looking at that to see if we need to make changes around gaiters and the like, and bandanas. Yeah.
Speaker 11: (37:44)
Governor, a new report found a 90% increase in the number of cases in children over the last few weeks. Does that give you a different perspective on in-person schooling?
Governor Charlie Baker: (37:56)
My understanding is that that study, that 90% increase, is on an incredibly small number in the first place. Like if you go from one to two, that’s a hundred percent increase. And it was a pretty small sample size in the first place. I think this is probably more a question for the secretary than me, but my understanding, based on the guidance I’ve read, is, for the most part, cases among kids, especially young kids, remain extremely rare. Isn’t that? Yeah.
Speaker 12: (38:22)
Governor, Representative Sean Garballey said that your order with regards to travel between Mass and Rhode Island was unconstitutional. What do you think of his assertion [inaudible 00:38:37]?
Governor Charlie Baker: (38:37)
First of all, there are many states around the country that have installed some sort of travel issues to basically maintain a high awareness associated with people coming from hotspot states to States like Massachusetts. Or the opposite, depending upon what time of year we’re in and when the context was. But we believe that an order that either requires people to quarantine or isolate, coming from a state that’s got significant COVID penetration, or getting a test before they come or getting a test after they come, gives travelers options.
Governor Charlie Baker: (39:27)
And by giving travelers options, we believe it meets any constitutional tests that would be associated with that. And as I said last week, Rhode Island, the numbers are the numbers. And we had set a travel advisory based on a certain set of criteria and they exceeded them. And if they come back down and fall under them, then we’ll change our policy. But as it stands right now, we’re giving people coming from Rhode Island options with respect to how to meet the terms of our advisory. And there are exemptions, as we’ve said before, for people who work or transitional travel and that sort of thing. So I’m not worried about a challenge on that one.
Speaker 17: (40:13)
Speaker 13: (40:14)
Governor, how is your sense of [inaudible 00:40:16] revenue numbers?
Governor Charlie Baker: (40:20)
We’re still clicking our way through it, but basically the July revenue number was more or less what we expected with respect to fiscal 20. Remember, you’ve got to peal all this stuff that’s related to the last fiscal year, and the last tax year, from the stuff that’s related to this fiscal year and this calendar year. I would say the stuff from the last fiscal year was reasonably consistent with expectations, and the stuff from July, believe it or not, was actually relatively close to being consistent with budgeted expectations. But July, July is a tiny month. Don’t forget that.
Speaker 13: (40:59)
We’re going through this pandemic, how could it be [inaudible 00:41:05]
Governor Charlie Baker: (41:04)
I think part of it had to do with … Remember, if you get unemployment, you still have your unemployment taken out of your withholding. And sales, not just here in Massachusetts, but sales generally speaking around the country had seen a pretty big bounce once you got out of the months of March and April. Automobile sales, for reasons that I don’t fully appreciate, have also been pretty good. There’s a lot of appropriate pessimism about the state of the economy and the state of play across huge swaths of industry. And they show up in the unemployment numbers and they show up in all sorts of other statistics. But there are other areas of the economy that are doing, quote unquote, okay. But I think the big issue with July from our point of view was, what was the change in the tax payment from April to July going to mean with respect to our ability to pay and close? Pay our bills and close our books on fiscal 20? Because we basically moved the biggest tax payment month of the year from April to July. And that number, thankfully, came in about where we thought it would. But I don’t … I mean, if you’re asking me if I’m drawing lots of conclusions about what fiscal 21 is going to look like based on July numbers, the answer to that is no.
Governor Charlie Baker: (42:45)
I think we were pleasantly surprised by the withholding number and the sales number, but let’s face it, I think we all know that there’s still a lot of real challenges associated with our economy out there and it’s going to be a tough year with respect to that.
Speaker 14: (43:03)
Do you expect to participate in the president’s unemployment program?
Speaker 15: (43:03)
Governor, the president’s war on [inaudible 00:43:10], is that something Massachusetts is on board with given [inaudible 00:43:15]. And if [inaudible 00:43:19]?
Governor Charlie Baker: (43:19)
I’ve said for a while that I think it’s important for Congress to come to terms on a fourth package, if you want to call it that. And my view on the fourth package is two pieces. Number one, there are very real issues that states and municipal governments have, associated with almost everything associated with COVID. And that’s no longer just a northeast issue, that’s an issue if you look at any map of the United States. People are going to continue to have costs and expenses associated with this and a health care community that’s going to remain under significant stress. Just, period.
Governor Charlie Baker: (43:56)
So I think it’s really important that there be a fourth package. With respect to the president … Did you ask about unemployment? The biggest concern I have about that is the way he funded, under that order, the federal share of this was with FEMA money.
Governor Charlie Baker: (44:21)
Now you can make an argument, a credible one, that FEMA money would be inappropriate resource. It’s an emergency and all the rest. But the problem with that is that that FEMA money, as far as most states are concerned, is what’s there for us to apply to be reimbursed for all the costs that we incurred in March, April and May during the original emergency, and to be reimbursed by the Feds. And the thing about FEMA is it’s funding is not regular, it’s funding goes up or down depending upon whether or not there’s a calamity. So Congress appropriated a bunch of money. That money was supposed to be there, in our opinion, to reimburse states for the bills that we incurred that are reimbursable, up to 75% in most cases, and 100% in some cases, associated with the expenses that we incurred taking care of our states and our communities in March, April, May and June.
Governor Charlie Baker: (45:22)
And that’s exactly the budget piece that you all may remember, we needed to get the legislature to appropriate so that we could then file reimbursement for it. And we are one of many states that are doing that. And I think I said this at the time, when FEMA runs out of money on that reimbursement, we don’t know when Congress will get around to appropriating additional funds. So I’m very concerned about that. I would much rather, as I’ve said before, the Feds want to do something about an enhanced unemployment benefit. And we’ve said that we would support that. We believe it needs to be done through a separate appropriation, not by taking money from FEMA, which is how we, the states, are planning to get reimbursed as we expected and anticipated we would, for the expenses that we incurred under the emergency orders to deal with COVID in March, April, May and June.
Speaker 16: (46:14)
It’s also a requirement of states to [inaudible 00:46:20]
Governor Charlie Baker: (46:21)
Well, it would come out of the Cares Act money. And the Cares Act money, I think as most people know, is being used to fund … I mean, 900 million of the Cares Act money, lieutenant governor and I have stood here and talked about, is money that we made available to communities to fund things like going back to school. So, again, it’s coming out of a pot that most of us believe is sort of already designated for a very particular purpose that was consistent with the original intent of the legislation.
Governor Charlie Baker: (46:54)
Speaker 17: (46:54)
Speaker 11: (46:57)
Thank you, governor.
Governor Charlie Baker: (46:57)