Jul 24, 2020

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker Press Conference Transcript July 24

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker Press Conference Transcript July 24
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsMassachusetts Governor Charlie Baker Press Conference Transcript July 24

Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker’s coronavirus press conference on July 24. He announced a new travel order that comes with a $500 fine per day of noncompliance. This order will take effect on August 1. Read the transcript of his press conference here.

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Governor Charlie Baker: (00:00)
So good morning. Earlier today, I signed an executive order. Sorry, Lisa.

Governor Charlie Baker: (00:11)
Earlier today I signed an executive order to implement new travel rules that will be effective on August 1st for all visitors and residents entering the Commonwealth. As we all know, Massachusetts was hit especially hard by COVID-19 in the early months. We all made tough decisions to close schools and businesses and issued a stay at home advisory to slow the spread. We also mobilized our healthcare system to create capacity for patients in hospitals and increased testing where transmission was occurring. Since March, the people in Massachusetts have made great sacrifices and shown great discipline, and as a result, our state has made great progress to slow the spread of COVID-19 and gradually reopen. The actions of our residents have made this possible. I want to thank you for continuing to wear face coverings, to socially distance, to practice good hygiene, and to stay home when you feel sick.

Governor Charlie Baker: (01:14)
We’ve made it easier for people to get access to testing, especially in communities where transmission rates were higher than the state average. But we all know, as we said many times, that COVID is not taking the summer off, and we haven’t either. At this time of year, many people are traveling to and from Massachusetts for vacation or in some cases getting ready to come back to school. We’ve already seen an uptick in activity at Logan Airport. Secretary Pollack will talk a bit more about this in a moment. We have a lower average for positive tests than many States around the country, and we want to keep it that way as travel volumes increase from other States and around the world. The most important thing I’ll say today is very simple. Every traveler coming to Massachusetts, no matter where they’re from, has a responsibility to help keep COVID-19 out of the Commonwealth. Today, I’m signing an executive order that effective August 1st, it is mandatory for all travelers entering Massachusetts, both out of state travelers and Massachusetts residents returning home.

Governor Charlie Baker: (02:32)
This will include students returning to school for the fall semester. The new travel order requires visitors and returning residents to fill out the Massachusetts travel form. In addition, all travelers must quarantine for 14 days unless they’re coming from a state that has a lower rate of infection and retransmission, such as Massachusetts. They can produce a negative COVID-19 test recently administered no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in Massachusetts. They fall into one of a number of limited circumstance specific exceptions. Travelers will not be required to quarantine after they receive a negative test result after they arrive in Massachusetts. Everyone who chooses not to quarantine must be able to provide proof of their negative test result upon request. Those who do not comply with the new travel order are subject to a $500 per day fine. Based on the current public health data, starting right now, those lower risks States include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Hawaii.

Governor Charlie Baker: (03:56)
The Department of Public Health has put together criteria for what qualifies as a lower risk state based on average daily cases and positive test rates. Secretary Sutters will expand on this in a moment. The order also lays out a few more narrow exemptions for workers in certain critical industries. To repeat, effective August 1st, here’s what everyone should do before traveling to Massachusetts. Visit mass.gov/matraveler or text MA traveler to 888777. The website will make it clear how the rule applies to you unless you’re traveling from a lower risk COVID state or meet a narrow exemption, you’ll be asked to fill out the Massachusetts Traveler’s form and instructed to plan to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result. The website also explains what test results are acceptable. Travelers will be informed of the new travel guidance by airlines, passenger rail corporations, bus companies, lodging operators, Airbnb, and some major travel agents when booking trips and before arrival here in the Commonwealth.

Governor Charlie Baker: (05:17)
Failure to comply, as I said before, will result in a $500 per day fine. People have lots of reasons to visit Massachusetts right now. You may be coming in for a family vacation or to start a new job. Students may be gearing up to come back to school in the fall for their fall semester. Keep in mind that this order applies to everyone. And we urge folks including residents to check the mass.gov/matraveler website before you arrive here. Employers are discouraged from sending their employees on business travel to locations other than those lower risk States. The Lieutenant Governor will get into this in more detail in a minute. Suffice it to say that there are no shortcuts when it comes to containing COVID-19. For months, the residents of the Commonwealth have been vigilant, adjusted their daily routines and have had to adopt new habits and we cannot, and we must not let up now.

Governor Charlie Baker: (06:23)
Please continue to wear those face coverings, practice, good hygiene and social distancing, do not travel here if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and if you’re visiting us from another state, take a moment to learn about the rules. We can’t let up now. And I have every confidence that if we all work together and keep doing our part, we can continue to fight COVID and can continue to reopen the Commonwealth.

Governor Charlie Baker: (06:51)
One more thing, we’ve seen a lot of reports over the course of the past few weeks about crowding at beaches. Over the course of the past weekend, the crowding at the M Street Beach in South Boston was particularly oppressive. It’s a great beach, and we’re happy to see people heading outside during their free time, but the crowding and the behavior that our folks saw out there last weekend simply can’t continue. If people can’t space out and can’t do the things that everyone else is doing with respect to face covering, social distancing, and good hygiene, then we’ll have to limit the number of people who can be there. That’s not something we want to do. We want people to simply use their heads and be responsible. And we look forward to another weekend here in the Commonwealth, where people choose to play by the rules and do the things that keep us safe and healthy. And with that, I’m going to turn it over to the Lieutenant Governor.

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito: (08:02)
Good morning. And thank you, Governor. I want to thank the residents and the businesses here in Massachusetts for your continued hard work to slow the spread of COVID-19 as we gradually reopen our economy. By following public health guidance and implementing important safety protocols, Massachusetts has been able to make remarkable progress in reducing the rate of COVID-19 infections in our state. Today, the Governor signed an executive order for all travelers entering Massachusetts that will go into effect on August 1st. Additionally, we are announcing new guidelines for industries, including lodging, higher education, offices, and more, to reflect and incorporate this new travel order. Lodging operators like hotels and Airbnb will be required to inform guests about this order at the time of booking and arrival and encouraged to communicate this information on their websites and onsite. With limited exceptions, travelers arriving in Massachusetts from any place other than a state identified by the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health as a COVID-19 lower risk state will be required to quarantine for 14 days after arrival, or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito: (09:38)
This rule will apply equally to Massachusetts residents returning home from out of state travel and to people arriving from other States and countries. Massachusetts employers are discouraged from sending employees on business travel to locations other than the States categorized as lower risk by DPH and should take steps to ensure that employees who do travel out of state comply with our travel order rules on returning. As a result of this new mandatory travel rule, updates have also been made to the mandatory safety standards for all workplaces, which can be found online. A full list of industry and sector specific guidance relative to travel restrictions and recommendations can be found online www.mass.gov/reopening. We have asked a lot of our residents and our businesses over these past few months, and we deeply appreciate your hard work and your continued compliance with these orders. Everyone, everyone has a role to play and everyone must continue to do their part wearing face coverings, social distance-

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito: (11:03)
Do their part, wearing face coverings, social distance, and practicing good hygiene every day. Please visit mass.gov/reopening to learn more about the new recommendations and restrictions related to travel and your workplace. Thank you, and I’d now like to turn it over to Secretary Pollack.

Stephanie Pollack: (11:30)
Thank you Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito. New travel protocols are being announced today because our goal is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as out-of-state travel increases. Data monitored by MassDOT shows that there has been a gradual but steady increase in travel since March, both on our roads and at Logan airport. We are seeing more people moving around, both within Massachusetts and from out of state. Earlier in July, traffic volumes measured at a series of key locations around the state were on average only 10 to 15% lower than corresponding 2019 volumes, far higher than back in April or May.

Stephanie Pollack: (12:12)
At Logan airport the number of passengers passing through TSA checkpoints remains well below last year’s levels, but has been rising steadily. The average number of daily checkout passengers doubled from around 3,300 in May to just over 7,000 in June, and has nearly doubled again in the first three weeks of July, to just over 12,000 people going through TSA checkpoints at Logan each day. Of the 200 to 300 arriving flights each day, there are on average 51 flights just from the three states of Florida, California, and Texas, where COVID-19 cases and fatalities are on the rise. So as Governor Baker emphasized, Massachusetts residents are increasingly headed out to other states and travelers from other states are increasingly coming to Massachusetts. All such travelers have a responsibility to help the Commonwealth keep transmission levels as low as possible. Complying with the travel order is straightforward. Whether you are a Massachusetts resident returning from out-of-state travel or someone traveling here from other states, you will need to fill out a Massachusetts traveler form unless you are coming from a state that has been designated a lower risk COVID-19 State, or fall into a narrow exemption category. We’ve made that easy to do either by going online to www. mass.gov/masstraveler, or texting mass traveler to 888777. If you decide to come here, there’s an online form to fill out with contact and other information so that the Contact Tracing Collaborative can check in and make sure that you observe the 14 day quarantine.

Stephanie Pollack: (13:48)
We need to make sure that Massachusetts residents thinking about heading out of state and people thinking about visiting Massachusetts know about the travel order. Therefore MassDOT and Massport, represented today by CEO Lisa Wieland, are launching a comprehensive campaign to educate travelers about the rules for travel, quarantine, and testing. MassDOT and Massport are working together to ensure that travelers and potential travelers know about the travel order, including educating them between now and August 1st when it takes effect. Signs and electronic messages about the travel order will be going up at Logan and other airports, at South Station and other train stations, and at the South Station bus terminal beginning today, and over the next week. Travelers at Logan airport, South Station and other travel terminals will soon hear announcements about the travel order.

Stephanie Pollack: (14:39)
MassDOT and Massport have reached out to airlines, bus companies, and Amtrak to get their cooperation in notifying those who use their websites and book travel with them about the Massachusetts travel order, and to ask them to make announcements on planes and trains. Travelers on our highways and at rest areas will see electronic signs and signs at rest areas. The new travel protocols taking effect August 1st demonstrate that the Commonwealth is continuing to take COVID-19 seriously. We are simply asking those who visit our state and those residents who leave our state to act responsibly, just as we ask everyone here to be vigilant and responsible every day. Thank you. I will now turn the podium over to COVID Command Center Director Marylou Sudders.

Marylou Sudders: (15:35)
Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Secretary Pollack, Massport authority director Lisa Wieland, good morning. Before I provide greater detail on the public health metrics used when developing this order, I want to give the daily quick update on COVID-19 cases, testing and hospitalizations. Yesterday we experienced significant challenges in providing our public dashboard as a result of the hastily announced new federal reporting requirements that just went into effect. I want to acknowledge the considerable frustration and administrative burden that all of our Massachusetts hospitals and the Department of Public Health have experienced to adjust internal reporting systems and establish new technical platforms to provide these expanded federal data.

Marylou Sudders: (16:19)
We’re working nonstop to resolve any data accuracy and integrity issues that may have occurred as a result. It is essential that the data be accurate and any apparent anomalies be fully understood. Yesterday the state reported that 16,133 new individuals were tested for COVID-19. In total, almost 1.4 million tests have been administered to date. Yesterday there were 270 new positive cases reported, that brings the statewide total of confirmed cases to 107,683. 16 deaths were also reported. The seven day average for the positive rate remains in line with recent trends at 1.8%. There are currently 351 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide. 59 are in the ICU. The three day average number of patients in the hospital is down 87% since the middle of April. The Command Center and the Department Public Health continue to carefully monitor key public health data.

Marylou Sudders: (17:32)
As the governor said, the actions of Massachusetts residents in regards to the public health measures that have been put into place, and the response of our healthcare system since March has made a significant positive impact on our case numbers and experience to date. Sticking to the guidelines, wearing a face covering, maintaining physical and social distance, practicing good hygiene, staying home and contacting a medical provider if ill, are critical to containing the spread of the virus as we go forward. As this travel order was developed, we relied on public health data that is widely available to the public to develop a list of lower-risk COVID-19 states, which had similar or better case data to Massachusetts. To be included as a lower-risk state, states must meet two criteria. The average daily cases per 100,000 residents must be below six per 100,000. And the positive test rate must be below 5%. To put in context, Massachusetts positive test rate, as I said, as we reported was 1.8%, and our average daily case per 100,000 is 3.6.

Marylou Sudders: (18:50)
These statistics are both measured as the rolling average of the last seven days. We pull the data from COVID exit strategies dashboard. The full list of lower-risk States is available at mass.gov/masstraveler. The data is constantly monitored and the list will be updated based as individual state experiences changes, and as the data reflects. So if you are planning to travel to Massachusetts, or if you are a resident returning to the Commonwealth from travel, personal or business, it is important to check the website and the list before you travel. We appreciate all of the diligence all of us have shown over the last few months, as the governor said, COVID is not taking the summer off. And as we cautiously reopen our state, we need everyone, including travelers and visitors, to continue to adhere to the public health guidance and orders we have in place. Thank you. Governor…

Governor Charlie Baker: (19:48)

Press person: (19:48)
Governor, how [inaudible 00:19:49] something like this?

Governor Charlie Baker: (19:58)
Well, what we’re expecting here, and it’s been true in many other circumstances and situations, is if we make clear to people on the front end, and we make clear to the airlines and to the other travel partners who are involved in scheduling and arranging travel for people, what the rules of the game are, the vast majority of the people will play by the rules. People can, as they have in many other cases, if they’re concerned about this or they see somebody they believe is violating this, notify either their local board of health or the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health, or they can call 211. But the goal here is to rely on what we’ve relied on from the beginning, which is that people generally speaking follow the rules.

Press person: (20:42)
So is anyone going to be checking with hotels or Airbnbs to make sure this is happening?

Governor Charlie Baker: (20:49)
The Airbnbs and the hotels are going to be expected to inform people that these are the rules when they book a room, and they’re going to be expected to inform them when they show up that these are the rules, and that if they’re here for 14 days, they need to contact the… They need to quarantine and they need to contact the Tracing Collaborative so that we can reach out to them and make sure that they actually do what they’re supposed to do.

Speaker 1: (21:12)
But are they expected to release their [crosstalk 00:10:16], yeah, will they volunteer? Is it on the honor system?

Governor Charlie Baker: (21:18)
Yeah. But the honor system in Massachusetts has worked pretty well.

Speaker 1: (21:22)
Governor, What agency or what officers or local health officials, who exactly might be tasked with protecting if compliance isn’t happening?

Governor Charlie Baker: (21:32)
Well, remember the local boards of health are doing most of the contact tracing that’s being done currently in their own communities. And generally speaking, if they reach the point where they can’t handle a particular case or their numbers get greater than what they have the capacity to do, those automatically get referred to the Contact Tracing Collaborative and they get dealt with from there.

Speaker 2: (21:53)
Governor, this isn’t specific to air travel, obviously, but a lot of people who come visit are coming from states on the road. Are you going to be stopping cars? What are you saying to the drivers who come-

Speaker 3: (22:03)
Are you going to be stopping cars or what are you saying to the drivers who come from other places?

Governor Charlie Baker: (22:04)
No. We’re not going to be stopping cars, but we’re going to expect people to comply. And as Secretary Pollack said, there’s going to be a ton of signage out there, to make clear to people about what the rules are for coming to Massachusetts, and you’re not from one of the lower test states.

Speaker 3: (22:24)
They will be getting the tickets. You said up to a $500 fine. Who will be issuing those?

Governor Charlie Baker: (22:24)
Well, those would be issued by the local Boards of Health.

Speaker 4: (22:26)
Governor, they’ll be filling out forms when they’re coming into the state, [inaudible 00:00:31].

Governor Charlie Baker: (22:31)
It’s actually going to be online. The whole thing is going to be basically either on your phone and your iPad or your laptop.

Speaker 4: (22:40)
Do you [inaudible 00:22:40] their address where they’ll be staying [crosstalk 00:22:42]?

Governor Charlie Baker: (22:40)

Speaker 4: (22:41)
Is the state going to track those folks [inaudible 00:22:44] or healthy?

Governor Charlie Baker: (22:46)
The local Boards of Health, we’re the contact tracing collaborative. We’ll be confirming that people are actually complying with their quarantine. Yeah.

Speaker 5: (22:53)
Why take this move at this point, Governor, are you concerned about… Is it the college students in the summer, travel mostly? Or it seems like you’re stepping it up a bit here.

Governor Charlie Baker: (23:03)
I think there’s three elements to this. One is, as Secretary Pollack pointed out, the amount of travel, the amounts of interstate travel, and in some respects, the amount of international travel that’s going on, has gone from very low to low. I guess that’s what I would say at this point. But it’s higher than it was 30 or 60 days ago. That’s point number one. Point number two, there are many parts of the United States that have seen a very significant increase in both their positive test rates and their test rates per capita, their positive test rates per capita over the course of the past 30 to 60 days, which has really changed the game in many respects with the way we think about the relative risk associated with out-of-state travel into Massachusetts. And the third thing is, obviously, there are people coming here for vacations, and a lot of people are starting to come here because school’s coming in the fall.

Speaker 6: (23:58)
Governor, [crosstalk 00:23:59]-

Speaker 7: (23:58)

Speaker 6: (23:59)
… go to the beach, and also the situation down in the Cape for people who gathered and the spread that’s going on, are you concerned that people are starting to let their guard down and that would [inaudible 00:24:17]?

Governor Charlie Baker: (24:14)
So I think every time our administration speaks to the public, whether it’s in this forum or in some other forum, we talk about how important it is for people to focus on not giving up the gains we’ve worked so hard to achieve. And we all recognize that the sacrifices and the adjustments in lifestyle and everything else that everybody’s made are difficult. But they have, in fact, had a lot to do with why we’ve gone from a 30% positive test rate on COVID tests to a 1.8% rate, and have basically, gone from almost 10%, when the reopening plan began in the middle of May, to 1.8% now. That behavior, those decisions, the fact that people had been willing to follow the rules associated with how you contain this virus, have a lot to do with why we’re where we are today.

Governor Charlie Baker: (25:20)
But we say all the time, that we don’t want people to get confident about this. Yes, people abiding by these rules have had a tremendously positive impact on the growth and the spread of the virus, but they need to keep doing that. And the incident with respect to Chatham is a great example of what happens when you don’t. What COVID wants more than anything is an opportunity to jump from person to person to person to person. That’s how it stays alive. That’s how it continues to be an issue and a public health crisis, not just for people here in Massachusetts, but people everywhere.

Governor Charlie Baker: (26:05)
And I can’t express how important it is for everybody to maintain the discipline and to follow the face covering, social distancing. And hygiene rules that have got us to where we are. There’s a reason why we have gathering rules in place. I know a lot of people don’t like them, but those gathering rules are about keeping people healthy, so that we can continue to have a reopened economy. And we can continue to build on the success we’ve had to date. So yeah, that kind of stuff makes everybody nervous.

Speaker 7: (26:39)

Speaker 9: (26:39)
My question-

Speaker 7: (26:39)
… do you think people should be fine for hosting parties, like what happened down [Chatham, Ma. 00:00:26:44]?

Governor Charlie Baker: (26:43)
I think people should use their heads, and we’ve said this many times. I would much rather have eight or nine different people, all have a small gathering with intelligent and appropriate behavior around spread in their backyards, than have one person have a gathering with 100 people. Yes, of course, every opportunity people have to think small about this stuff is going to be in the longterm best interest of the people in Massachusetts, and in the longterm best interest of their friends and their families and their neighbors. And outside is way better than indoors. But obviously, outdoors comes with its own issues as well, if you put big groups together who do develop the close contacts that create the issues associated with how this thing spreads in the first place.

Governor Charlie Baker: (27:37)
There’s lots of debate about what COVID is and what it does. The one thing everybody agrees on, is the way it continues to thrive and survive is by getting passed from one person to another, because people don’t engage in social distancing, don’t wear masks, don’t wash their hands, don’t wipe off surfaces, and do all the things that make this so potent and so dangerous. And I can’t repeat that enough.

Speaker 8: (28:08)
Governor, I have a question about the Red Sox. Are you throwing out the first pitch tonight? There seems to be some confusion, the Red Sox say that’s not in their plan.

Governor Charlie Baker: (28:19)
My understanding, and admittedly, all I know is what I’m told by my staff because they’re much smarter about what I’m doing most of the time than I am, is that there are a number of people who are going to be throwing out a first pitch. And I think that’s the Red Sox way of making sure that at least one of us gets it somewhere near where it’s supposed to go.

Speaker 8: (28:36)
Do you approve of Dr. Fauci’s effort at the National Stadium?

Governor Charlie Baker: (28:44)
I say all the time that all of us are good at some things and not so good at others. We all know what Dr. Fauci is really good, and I think it’s terrific that they picked him to throw the first pitch.

Speaker 9: (28:54)
[crosstalk 00:28:54] Can you talk a little bit about what you’re going to ask Vice President Pence for? What do you need from him?

Governor Charlie Baker: (29:03)
I’m going to talk to the Vice President about a whole series of issues associated with COVID, associated with state municipal relationships, the current discussion and debate before the Feds that’s going on in Washington with respect to a fourth round of COVID funding. And I’m going to talk to them about testing.

Speaker 5: (29:25)
A couple of weeks ago, you announced an increased testing in eight communities, hot spot communities that hadn’t been tested. Just wondering, have you learned anything from the testing that’s been done in those communities?

Governor Charlie Baker: (29:37)
Do you want to speak to that?

Secretary Sudders: (29:44)
So in the eight communities that we have expanded testing, free testing, asymptomatic and symptomatic, has been… So I don’t have the numbers off the top of my head, but it has been very well utilized. We’re keeping it going in through August and we will be announcing next week, another eight communities in Massachusetts with the data. And we will report. The data is actually embedded in the dashboard that comes out, but we’ll actually do a separate report showing what the positive test rates are in those communities. So it’s done exactly what we’ve wanted to do, is people for who are worried or people who want to get tested with no barriers, rolled out in the communities. And we’re going to the next eight communities after that.

Speaker 10: (30:37)
But are you able to tell if things are better or worst in terms of infections in those communities?

Secretary Sudders: (30:43)
So again, I like to report the data as in totality. And one testing site has not fully reported all their data. So we’ll report it next week. It’s done what we have wanted to do, which is increase access, no barriers, and really added to what I’d call a community responsiveness to it. If anything, some of the communities have asked like after August, when we’re supposed to move on to like the next communities, could we stay? So it’s doing what we wanted to do is to make it as accessible for people, but we’ll report it by next week.

Speaker 7: (31:17)
Are any of those going to involve Western Massachusetts communities, such as Springfield or Holyoke, which have seen some pockets of higher increase?

Secretary Sudders: (31:23)
So the eight communities were based on very specific data. And the specific data was where we had seen a significant decrease in testing overall for the community, a higher test rate than what is the state’s average, and a higher positive test rate. So those were the data and that’s the data that drives where we go. And the next eight will also be based on the same data. So in the first eight, did not include anyone in Western Mass. And if you remember, from when we did the mass gathering testing, the good news in Western Mass at that time was there was zero positive test rate, from when we did the mass gathering tests in Western mass. But the next date, I think you’ll see additional spread in the geography.

Speaker 8: (32:08)
Secretary Sudders, do you [inaudible 00:32:11] on the data irregularities that you’ve been working through, can you just expand on that a little bit more? How are you working through that and [inaudible 00:32:18] verification [crosstalk 00:32:25]-

Secretary Sudders: (32:18)
So I really call anomalies. So when the federal government announced on the 15th of July that the reporting for hospitals, the data elements was going from 41 to 90, effective July 22nd, and changing a number of definitions. And some of the data that hospitals report was a weekly data and others it was daily. So all the data from hospitals now is 91 data fields. Now daily reporting by hospitals, one week notice to get it in place. And hospitals, acute care hospitals in Massachusetts report to us, and we report it to the federal government. That’s a lot of data that… and definitions and changing the technical elements. And I’ll give you two-

Secretary Sudders: (33:03)
Changing the technical elements and I’ll give you two examples of what happened. And you can actually see it on slide 10 of the data dashboard from last night. So the data came in, we experienced a significant drop in hospitalizations. You’ll see I think it’s 81, for COVID, for COVID hospitalizations. For COVID hospitalizations. And we wanted to be certain that that was not a reporting area anomaly, what was it? So two things happened, the federal government redefined what suspected cases were. So the hospitals started to change the definition to comport with the federal definition. So that narrows the number of cases to be reported. As well as two large hospital systems in Massachusetts actually did have a significant decrease in COVID hospitalizations. But when you see that significant drop, we wanted to make sure that that wasn’t a data integrity area, but a real error, a real issue.

Secretary Sudders: (34:04)
The other thing, we did not update the hospital surge data yesterday because the federal government has redefined what surge capacity means for both ICU med-surge and added two other parts of a hospital for surge capacity that we don’t report. We report on med-surge in ICU. So adding almost 50 new data elements, changing definitions. When the data was first reported, it just was so different from other data, right, we’ve been seeing that we literally really did manual calls to hospitals yesterday before we reported the data last night and still felt that the surge capacity in particular was just, that and the admissions data, were the two charts that we just did not update. And we will correct those today.

Speaker 11: (34:57)
So by today, it will be rectified?

Secretary Sudders: (34:57)
Yes. Yes. People literally have been working around the clock on this.

Speaker 11: (35:02)
So [inaudible 00:02:02].

Secretary Sudders: (35:06)
40. So we went from 40 to 91 with one week’s notice.

Speaker 12: (35:13)
Thanks everybody.

Governor Charlie Baker: (35:16)
Before we run, somebody asked a question earlier in the week about kids, younger people. So the way to think about this is if you go back to April and May, the per capita positive test rate for people over the age of 60 was very high. The per capita positive test rate for people between the ages of 30 and 60 was high, but not as high as the over sixties. And the per capita positive test rate for the zero to 30 population was underneath those two, but it was also reasonably high, okay? What’s happened since then is the positive test rate per capita for the over sixties has crashed, the positive test rate for the 30 to sixties has also crashed, and the positive test rate for the under thirties has also crashed. So what has happened as a result of that is there’s been an increase in terms of the percent of positives that are in the zero to 30 category and the 30 to 60 category.

Governor Charlie Baker: (36:29)
But that’s only because the over 60 group was so high to begin with, all right? The reason I’m bringing this up is a lot of what’s driving the increase in cases coming out of the South was just an astonishing run-up in positive test rates for the under 30 crowd. We do not have that, okay? We do not have that. Our under 30 crowd is a higher percentage than it was two months ago, but that’s not because their positive test rate overall has gone up. It hasn’t. It’s collapsed the same way the 30 to 60 crowd did and the over 60 crowd did. The difference is how big the per capita positive test rate was for the over 60 folks and the 30 to 60 folks back in April and May. I mean the 30 and under crowd was never testing at the same rate as those other groups. And the reason I bring that up is it’s an important element in this conversation.

Governor Charlie Baker: (37:33)
You could see though, zero to 30 folks go up as a percent of the total. But if you look at their performance overall, over the period of time, it’s been in the same direction and with the same crash as the 30 to 60 and the over 60 crowds. It’s just those two started from a position that was so much higher than the zero to 30 crowd. And our young people, for the most part, appear to be doing all the same things that the 30 to 60 and the over 60 folks are doing. They’re not driving trend. They’ve done a really good job of reducing their overall positive test rate over the same period of time than other people did. They just didn’t have as far to go in reducing their positive test rate as the other two groups did. I just thought that was important.

Speaker 13: (38:23)
Soldier’s Home. Do you have anything to add to [inaudible 00:05:27]?

Governor Charlie Baker: (38:33)
So we hired Mark Pearlstein to do an independent investigation. He’s a former First Assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He’s an incredibly respected attorney here in the Commonwealth of Mass, both as a public sector prosecutor and as a private attorney. He had free rein to write whatever report he wanted and he made absolutely clear in his final report that every single word in that report was his. I think the report speaks for itself. I’ve made phone calls to every single family that lost somebody at the Holyoke’s Soldier’s Home. I probably reached 80% of the people that I called. Many of them had read the report and expressed to me how incredibly hard it was. It was hard for me to read the report. They expressed to me how incredibly hard it was for them to read the report. Some of them had to read it in pieces. They couldn’t read it all at once because it was too painful. Many of them believe that report to be accurate and I’m with them. Thank you.

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