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SHNS Coronavirus Tracker (Tuesday PM Update) .: The State House News Service

SHNS Coronavirus Tracker (Tuesday PM Update)

The Latest on COVID-19

JULY 7, 2020.....Almost four months since declaring a state of emergency around the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that public health data "continues to show us positive trends on many of the key metrics."

The governor's comments came on the second day of Phase 3 of the state's economic reopening, and he reiterated that the plodding return to more normal business and social activities is only made possible by people who have adhered to mitigation strategies like wearing a mask and maintaining six feet or more of distance from others.

"It's now more important than ever, especially as we get into Phase 3, that everybody continue to do the things that have made such a difference here in Massachusetts over the course of the past 120 days. That means continuing to wear masks if you can't socially distance, to socially distance whenever possible, to practice good hygiene and to stay home if you feel sick," he said during a press conference in Plymouth.

Though gyms, movie theaters, museums and more are reopening this week as part of Phase 3, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said Tuesday that he asked Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito to give Boston one extra week to prepare for Phase 3 reopenings because of Boston's size, density and its "unique needs." In Boston, Phase 3 kicks off July 13.

Restaurants, which are trying to stay afloat while serving fewer customers and tending to temporary outdoor dining rooms, are hopeful that the eventual return of televised professional sports will entice even more people to return to a restaurant for a meal.

On Beacon Hill on Tuesday, an Education Committee hearing highlighted the changes that child care providers have undertaken to keep kids safe and involved in enriching activities while dealing with the pandemic and required safety measures. -- Colin A. Young

  • Tuesday Update from DPH: There were 140 new COVID-19 cases confirmed and 15 recent COVID-19 deaths confirmed by the Department of Public Health in a daily update Tuesday that also showed an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Tuesday's report raised the cumulative case count to 104,799 and the virus' death toll to 7,998, DPH said. Counting probable cases of COVID-19 that resulted in death, 8,213 people have died in Massachusetts since mid-March. The 140 newly confirmed cases came from 7,282 tests processed during the 24-hour reporting period, meaning that about 1.9 percent of all tests came back positive for COVID-19. There were 621 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Massachusetts as of midday Tuesday, an increase of 18 from Monday. The number of patients in an intensive care unit climbed by 5 to 104 as of midday Tuesday. There are 50 people intubated, a decrease of one from Monday, DPH said. Tuesday's report also showed that there are five Massachusetts hospitals relying on their COVID-19 surge capacity, up from just one on Monday. -- Colin A. Young 4:04 PM Tue
  • Outdoor Dining Accessibility: More than 300 Boston restaurants have been permitted to serve diners seated in temporary dining areas on sidewalks, in parking space and in the street, and now the city is making handicapped access ramps available to restaurants to ensure that outdoor seating areas are accessible to all and that a person using a wheelchair can still travel by the restaurant without being obstructed by the outdoor dining area. The city's Commission for Persons with Disabilities has been working with the Licensing Board, the Boston Transportation Department and other departments on accessibility issues since outdoor dining was first permitted last month. "It's important that as we reimagine our streets to accommodate outdoor dining during our reopening process, we do so in a way that is equitable to everyone who uses our roads and sidewalks, including those with disabilities," Walsh said. "We are glad to include accessibility as an integral part of our permitting process, and thank the restaurants for welcoming the use of portable ramps in their spaces as they continue to safely reopen." Walsh said a restaurant can request a ramp by emailing -- Colin A. Young 3:34 PM Tue
  • Bill Would Create COVID Response Inquiry Panel: A seven-member commission would be created to investigate the state's response to the COVID-19 outbreak and recommend any necessary corrective measures, under legislation filed Tuesday by Rep. Jon Santiago and Sen. Eric Lesser. "As we gain more insight into the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak and its impacts on Massachusetts, it is vital that we establish a dedicated nonpartisan commission to evaluate the response to the crisis and ensure future preparedness," Lesser said in a statement. The commission's members would be appointed by the governor, attorney general, treasurer, secretary of state, auditor, Senate president and House speaker, and no elected officials, state or local government employee, lobbyist or trade association employee could serve on the panel. "The Commonwealth deserves a thorough, deliberate, and reflective inquiry of the actions taken to date," said Santiago, an emergency room doctor. "We owe it to the countless number of families who lost loved ones and to the many healthcare and essential workers who continue to risk their lives." - Katie Lannan 2:31 PM Tue
  • Transmission Rate Creeping Up: Over the last few weeks, public officials in Massachusetts have taken a measure of pride from the fact that the Bay State had the lowest COVID-19 transmission rate of any state in the country. But since hitting the low end of the scale around June 22, the transmission rate of the virus in Massachusetts has been steadily inching upwards. There are now two states and the District of Columbia with lower rates of transmission, according to a website that has been compiling state data and tracking transmission trends. The site also made changes to its model, making apples-to-apples comparisons of older estimates less helpful. The current Rt for the coronavirus in Massachusetts -- a measure of a virus's average transmission rate at a given point in time -- is estimated at 0.96, according to the website, just below the 1.0 threshold that signifies rapid spread. The Rt value is essentially the number of people that one infected person transmits the virus to. "The way you really get in trouble with this virus is the reproduction rate -- you know, how fast does one person become two, become four, becomes eight, becomes 16, becomes 32 and the like," Gov. Charlie Baker said last month. Connecticut now has the lowest Rt of any state, at 0.79, followed by Washington, D.C. at 0.88, and Maine at 0.89. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maryland are all tied at an estimated Rt of 0.96. Utah, with an estimated Rt of 0.97, is the only other state with a value below the critical 1.00 threshold. Wisconsin has the highest RT value of any state, at 1.39, according to the website. -- Colin A. Young 1:25 PM Tue
  • Masks on Nantucket: As of Tuesday, every one in the the downtown and Sconset historic districts on Nantucket is required to wear a face covering regardless of how much distance they keep from others. The Inquirer and Mirror reported that the Nantucket Board of Health voted unanimously last week to issue an emergency order requiring face coverings in the areas. Nantucket has seen 20 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic first struck Massachusetts in February. As of Monday, Nantucket Cottage Hospital had no COVID-19 patients, according to the Department of Public Health. -- Colin A. Young 12:51 PM Tue
  • Somerville Takes Slower Path to Phase 3: When Gov. Charlie Baker announced that Phase 3 of his administration's economic and social reopening plan would begin on July 6, he exempted Boston from that day, giving the state's largest city an extra week to proceed ahead in the four-stage plan. One of Boston's neighbors -- the densely populated city of Somerville -- has since announced it will also be adopting a reopening date of July 13 or later for most of the businesses categorized in Phase 3. "Outside of Phase III health and human service providers, no other currently closed establishments in Somerville will reopen prior to July 13, which is the reopening date set by the Governor just for Boston. (The reopening date for the rest of the state was set for July 6.)," city officials wrote in a message to residents. "Updated guidelines for gatherings will also not go into effect until July 13 at the earliest. This will give City officials time to continue working with business owners to create safety protocols. In some cases, opening dates later than July 13 may be set as a result." When Massachusetts first embarked on its gradual reopening in May, Somerville officials said they'd use a different timeline than the statewide plan. As of Sunday, a total of 999 Somerville residents had been diagnosed with COVID-19, 923 of whom had recovered. Thirty-one Somerville residents have died from the respiratory disease, leaving 45 active cases in the city of more than 80,000. - Katie Lannan 9:20 AM Tue


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