Gov. Baker said today - again - that he does not want to even talk about how to re-open shut parts of the state's economy until after we see some consistent data that we are past the current Covid-19 surge, like declining Covid-19 hospitalization rates for a couple of weeks.
At the same time, though, Baker once again declined to say just what happens on May 5, the day after his current state of emergency, which shut "non-essential" businesses, runs out.
The best thing you can do is let the facts, as they become available, drive decisions," he said at his daily press briefing. "I get the fact that people want an answer, but any answer I give you today wouldn't be worth much."
Baker said he gets that people want a date, and that representatives of various closed sectors of the economy keep giving him proposals for how their companies could safely re-open, but he said he is too busy overseeing efforts to drive the infection rate down right now, and that only when the virus appears to be easing up will he begin looking at that.
Until data shows we're past surge, "we're not going to be interested in re-opening anything," he said.
He said that flattening the curve has worked - things never got as bad in Massachusetts as once predicted - but that that means the surge could last longer than expected as well.
Today's press conference marked Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel's first public appearance since she herself tested positive for Covid-19 exactly four weeks ago.
Bharel said she was feeling a bit achy that day, but thought it was just overwork - under her husband called and said their daughter was running a fever. She said she and her family all came down with the virus. She said she developed a fever and she felt ill for a few days, after which came intense exhaustion. But she said she did not need hospitalization and was cleared by her local Board of Health to return to work.
Baker expressed joy that Bharel is OK and said her diagnosis was a real "wake-up call" for top state officials, because Bharel was "a committed social distancer" and still came down with the virus.
Baker said the state's new system to provide unemployment to gig workers, the self-employed and contractors - the first one up and running in the country - has already signed up 100,000 people for payments in its first week, a number he called "mind boggling." He added that the state's traditional unemployment system has received 650,000 new claims since March 15 and that some 400,000 people are now getting payments through it - four times the number of people on unemployment in February. He added that, unlike in other states, the Massachusetts system has not collapsed under the load.